An: Raya_Light and Eflina have worked their individual magics and have made this one even better than before. So, I am reloading the story as they pass me the pretty versions.
Chapter 1 Going Back
Severus walked quickly to his door. His mind was chaotic trying to think of a place where he could hide. A place that was safe from all the responsibilities that were suddenly heaped upon his shoulders. 'But what can protect me from the men that I now call Master? How in the world am I going to survive spying for Dumbledore and Voldemort? Sure, Dumbledore knows that I am spying for both, but if Voldemort ever got a hint...' The thought of the torture and death that would follow made his throat tighten and a stone to settle in his stomach.
Turning the key to unlock his flat right off of Diagon Alley, he wished there was somewhere that no one expected to find him. Some place that no Death Eater or Order member would look for him. Some place safe.
As Severus stepped through the door, his eyes darted about, checking out the shadows, looking for anything untoward. The action reminded him of a time in his past. A time when he had to watch the shadows, not for attack, but to find a place of hide. His eyes widened as he thought of a place that he had banished from his memory so long ago. One that no one from the Wizarding world had ever set foot in except for three. One that no one who knew him would expect him to step foot in again.
He crossed to his bedroom and grabbed a bag. He shoved clothes into it as well as much Muggle money as he had in his possession. Digging out a set of keys he never thought to use again, he flung on a long trench coat, shrank everything down, and apparated away.
Severus appeared in a hidden corner of the park, near a small stand of trees. It was a place that no-one ever came to, not since he and Lily had grown up. Running his fingers lightly over the bark of one of the trees, he struck out towards a familiar path.
His steps didn't slow until he drew near the fence. It was a simple wooden fence anchored at the ends and the corners with stacks of flat stones, but it marked the boundary of his land. Resting his fingers lightly on the stone pile, Severus gazed into the plot of land the rested on the other side. 'Spinner's End... the house I grew up in. This place holds more ghosts... more pain...'
His eyes searched out the small stoop skipping over the trash and debris that was piled up through out the front lawn and decrepit gardens. The broken bottles there laid just as they had the day they had been smashed. At least he assumed they did, since he had not been here since his parents passed away. Not even for the funeral. He absently noted the number of bottles, judging how much his father had to drink in his final days.
A cold February breeze nipped at Severus' ankles as it tried to sneak into his coat to chill him. In the distance, the sun sank low in the sky. Inside himself, he fought the images of his father staggering drunkenly across the lawn searching for something, anything to take his anger against. He spun sharply about and looked out across the street trying to blot out those memories.
Instead, his mind showed him memories of bodies writhing while under the cruciatus curse, their screams echoing off the walls of their homes that they had thought were safe. Blood splattered on those wall from where one of the other Death Eaters had played with a member of the Muggle's family before killing them. Then, the face of the Dark Lord as he told him the part of the prophesy that he had overheard.
Severus' eyes subconsciously flickered towards direction of the Evan's house. The knowledge that his actions had put his oldest friend, whether she still acknowledged him or not, in danger still rankled. It had been the final push that sent him to Dumbledore. He would not be responsible for her death nor that of her baby. Potter could take care of himself, but those two... one he had been protecting for years against her sister's jealousy and one was too little to do anything to protect itself...he had to help.
His gaze skittered across the mushy ground and cracked road as he tried to forget the look in Dumbledore's eyes when he finally was able to face the consequence for his actions. He knew right from wrong, and knew that he was doing wrong every time he bowed his head to the Dark Lord. At least after the first muggle torture session, he knew it was wrong.
Dumbledore's look and the Dark Lord's tendency to torture are what brought him back to this place. He needed to get away, to sort his mind, to lock things away. He needed to prepare for the inevitable... Lily's eternal disgust or her torture, lying to the Dark Lord's face, and manipulation or at least pity from Dumbledore. Turning back around he walked past the fence line, leaving those worries on the other side.
Severus reached the stoop before he registered that he was crossing the yard. Glass crunched under his shoes as he dug the key ring out of his trench-coat pocket. Inserting the key into the lock, he braced himself, preparing for anything. He slowly opened the door, half expecting ghosts of the past, memories, to spring out at him, but the first one he saw was the last one he expected. Grandma Ann, his Father's Mum, stood there, just inside the entry hall, clouds of dust stirred by the breeze of the door swirling around her. Her light brown eyes seemed to bore into him as she slowly raised one eyebrow.
He jumped slightly, part of him swearing that she was really there while part of him knew she had left him when he was seven.
"Severus... this house..." The figment of his imagination turned and gestured down the hall into the house proper. "... is a mess." Her eyebrow lowered and her gaze turned into a glare.
Severus fought the urge to squirm under that look that took him back in time. He knew that look meant he forgot something important and he was about to be called on it.
The glare lightened slightly as she tipped her head. Her curtain of shoulder-length, light brown hair liberally streaked with gray brushed across her right shoulder. "And you know that a messy house means a messy mind. You need to straighten this place up, young man. Nobody's mind should be this disorganized." The glare returned full force before it melted into her trademark half smirk that she always said was a smile.
Returning her smirk with one of his own, Severus stepped into the house, dust puffing around his feet. "But Grandma, how can this place become organized without you here to direct?"
"Oh, I'll be here, don't worry about that." The words floated over her shoulder as Grandma Ann drifted down the hall towards the living room.
Severus stared after her, uncertainty gnawing at his gut. 'She's not a real ghost. She was a Muggle. She's never been here before, not as a ghost.'
The fingers of his right hand unconsciously brushed the fabric over the black mark on his left forearm. He knew that if she was real and found out all that he had done, she would never let him live it down. Her disappointment would be worse than Lily's. 'And I doubt she would approve of my spying for Dumbledore either.'
The dust settled as he stared at the doorway that she drifted through. He knew he had to follow her. He was here to escape the world outside, but he knew he had to face the one inside. If he could face and conquer what was here, he would have a haven from the outside world.
Walking slowly, Severus took the steps needed to enter the living room. His eyes darted around the room looking for any sign of Grandma Ann. She was no where to been seen.
Dust and cobwebs covered every surface, clinging to the old couch and armchairs that clustered about the old telly, coating the coffee table as well as the sole bookshelf and mantle. His gaze flickered towards the kitchen door instinctively listening for the sound of raised voices. 'They're not here anymore. No more fighting. This will become a place of peace.'
Turning on his heel, Severus crossed the room towards the hallway door. He pushed it open and peered into the darkness. Moving quickly up the stairs, he was glad his feet remembered the treads as he dodged the squeaky step halfway up.
He opened the door to his room and let his eyes adjust to the gloom that pervaded the room as the setting sun shone through the dust clotted curtains. One glance showed that his bed was not fit to lie in. With a practiced hand, the sheets were stripped and piled on the floor at the foot of the bed. Leaving the door opened, he used the tiny bit of light that was filtering in to see into the linen closet. There at the bottom, in the chest where they were always stored, where the covers that were always used to cover his bed when someone was visiting. They smelled of cedar as he shook them out and remade his bed.
Stripping out of his clothes, Severus quickly dressed in his night shirt and crawled under the cover. There was nothing he could do tonight. Neither the power, nor the water were turned on. He would head out in the morning to handle that. For now he would burrow under the covers and remember that the dungeons of Hogwarts were just as cold in the winter.