Notes:: Don't worry, chapter 38 of AFS will be up before too much longer, I just wrote this up to get it out of my head. This is a bit different style than what I usually write, so please forgive me if it sucks.
Notes 2:: This is my attempt at Vashsunglasses' challenge. I broke rule #2 though, and I'm pretty sure I warped the idea a bit, but I really can't stand James. Snape is so much better. If you want to know what the challenge is, feel free to hunt it down, but you won't get a word out of me here! ::evil smirk::
Disclaimer: Harry Potter etc. are the property of J.K. Rowling. I don't own them, however much I wish otherwise. I'm making no money off this, and if I was, it'd go right back to Rowling because of all the HP merchandise I'd buy with it. ~.^
Rating: PG for now
Archiving: Sure, so long as you ask first.
By Severitus, the Evil Genius
It all began when he received his Hogwart's letter. He'd been waiting for that day to arrive for his entire life, just the same as every other child with magical blood. It had come in the expected fashion, having been dropped on top of the potions book he had propped open on the breakfast table by an important looking owl. He'd reacted in the normal way as well, ripping open the envelope with childlike abandon, and then rushing upstairs to wake his mother with the happy news. She'd been thrilled as well, throwing her frail arms about him and then dragging him up to sit beside her on the bed. She'd once been a powerful woman, her tall stature and sharp features reflecting great power and beauty from behind a delicate figure. Now, she was thin and weak, her nightshirt hanging like an oversized rag about her bony shoulders, her thick, ebony hair matted and thinning upon her head. She turned her motherly gaze on him and stroked his back, whispering how proud she was and of all the wonderful things he would do and see.
Then things had gone a bit differently for him than they had for any other 11-year-old boy. His mother's expression turned serious as they sat atop the ancient bed, her dark eyes holding his excitement at bay. And then she began to speak, for the first time telling him the true reason behind his father's death, the truth about how she herself had been reduced to a thin, weak version of her formerly strong self, and finally, she told him their family's greatest secret. He'd always considered himself to be strong for his age, and so he tried his hardest to listen to her, to take in everything she'd said and accept it into his heart. But try as he might, he still cried when she spoke of his father, and he cried when she spoke of herself, and then he stared in awe and excitement when she spoke of the legacy that had been passed from generation to generation, the mission taken on and passed down by their ancestors thousands of year ago. And then she passed that mission on to him, removing a shining pendant from about her neck and placing it about his own, where it fell to rest like a warm hand over his heart. And he'd accepted it, setting his face with youthful determination and proclaiming his dedication to the noble task.
They were spies. Every member of his family since the time of King Arthur and Merlin had been a spy for the light, dedicated to subterfuge and to bearing secrets of the darkest kind. Generation after generation had taken up the task, on the surface supporters of Evil and darkness, followers of whatever fiend had set out in a search for power. But beneath the image of dark magic, they were the most dedicated advocates of light to ever exist within the wizarding world. Many had given their lives to the cause; more had suffered the horrors of Azkaban and the thousand tortures of the Unforgivables, yet they always carried on. His father had died for the mission, sacrificed his life to keep the information he carried from falling into the wrong hands. He'd been given Veritaserum, and in one last act of will had attacked his capturer and tricked him into killing him instead. Later, the Ministry had proclaimed him a dark wizard and buried him in an unmarked grave. His mother had come upon her current condition in a similar manner, having never been able to fully recover from a poison that had nearly killed her. And now--now it was his turn to take up the legacy, using the magic of the pendant about his neck. He was determined to make his mother proud.
And proud was indeed what he made her. With the help of the pendant, he infiltrated Hogwart's two most famed Houses. He walked among the Gryffindors in one persona, and among the Slytherins in another. Sometimes he even allowed his two identities to brawl and bicker among one another, eliminating any possibility of it being discovered that only one of the two was real at any given time, and the other a mere creation of the pendant about his neck. It worked beautifully. The Slytherins spoke to him of their dark dealings, trusted him with their parent's secrets, and from the Gryffindors he learned about everyone else, including which families should be watched closely. For several years it went on this way, one if his selves famous, the other infamous, garnering valuable information that was discreetly passed on to Albus Dumbledore, one of the few souls in existence that knew of his family's purpose. And then he met her.
She was smart, beautiful, witty, and he'd fallen hopelessly in love with her. He'd watched her in the halls, in the common room, listened to her bell-like voice as she chatted with her friends at lunch. And then he'd noticed her watching him back, her brilliant green eyes following him whenever he passed by, her cheeks flushing with color whenever their gazes met. If he remembered correctly, it had been a project in transfiguration that had finally gotten them to speak to one another. They'd been partnered up for the class, and he'd managed to calm his racing heart long enough to ask her out on a date. She'd agreed, and before long they'd become a permanent couple, always side-by-side even when it was only his 'shade' that was there.
It wasn't until two years later, in the second half of their seventh year, that he'd realized he'd half to make a choice. He wanted to spend his life with Lily, and yet he knew he couldn't spend his entire life lying to her, letting her love a made-up name and face, something in which only the personality was genuine. And so one night he'd taken her down to the lake, and he told her the truth. He told her about his family, about his mission, about his two selves, and about his feelings for her. Lily, wonderful, beautiful Lily, had sat by his side and listened to the entire tale. And then, once he'd finished, she'd washed all his fears away with a simple kiss, and not a word of it had been mentioned afterward. They'd married in November at the age of 18, using some of his inheritance to buy a small cottage. She'd gotten a high paying job in the Ministry, and he busied himself with his spying and fixing up the old house. They had plenty of money, as his family was an old one, but Lily liked to work and insisted upon doing just that.
He continued his spying duties throughout it all, following a few of his fellow Slytherins into the ranks of a Dark Wizard by the name of Voldemort. And Lily was there for him every night, washing the horrors from his mind with her gentle voice. Despite the growing evil in the world, they had never been happier in their lives. That very joy was given form in 1980, when their green eyed, black haired son was born into the world. He was a gorgeous little boy, with tiny hands that curled in his father's dark robes when he rocked him to sleep at night, and a bright smile that soothed his mother's fears when her husband was late getting home. Life was perfect, even if it was a tad bit odd. They were happy and still hopelessly in love, they had a home and money, and they had a son.
Life. Was. Perfect.
And then it shattered, a thousand shards of bloody glass spinning out of control. Voldemort was attacking the Ministry head on, hunting down its members one by one and either killing them, or forcing them under imperious to work for him. And Lily, who was one of the best charms students to ever graduate Hogwarts, was someone that he wanted on his side. Instantly they'd gone under the Fidelus Charm, determined to protect their happiness from His evil. And then they were betrayed by the least likely source, and she'd been murdered.
In a flash of condemning light his fiery, brilliant Lily had died, her arms wrapped about their son even in death, and it felt very much as if his heart had been ripped into so many tattered shreds. And then, when he'd imagined that he could not possibly suffer more, he'd been captured by the Ministry himself and thrown into Azkaban. Life had become hell. For months spent rotting in a prison cell, he'd thought of nothing but Lily and his son. Lily, broken and bleeding, his son, crying and alone, their home, charred, crumbling and empty. He died that day too. The brightness in his soul had shriveled and darkened, the dementors sucking the last of hope from his soul, leaving him a broken, lifeless, withered excuse for a human being. Even when Dumbledore had freed him from Azkaban, he had remained the same. Each day became a trial to endure, each smiling face a mockery of what his life had once been. Everything was a reminder, a shadowed memory of blissful perfection. His son had been sent to live with his aunt, and that was fine with him. He was in no condition to care for a child, not when he could barely care for himself. He hated himself for it, was disgusted by his own weakness, but he could not find the strength to break himself out of his hell. Darkness had faded from the world once again, but for years after it remained like a cancer within his mind and heart, a constant reminder of what had once been light.
And now yet another day was beginning, the sun rising high over the eastern horizon, the bird's sickening in their morning song from the sky just outside. It had been almost fifteen years since his world had broken, fifteen years of reliving memories, and nothing had changed. It still hurt as if it were yesterday, he still cringed every time he saw a smiling face, and he still woke up each morning expecting for her to be there next to him.
The sound of footsteps approaching broke him out of his reverie, and he sighed deeply as the presence stopped beside him, placing a comforting hand upon his shoulder.
"You really should stop torturing yourself like this, you know," the Headmaster said, his blue eyes shining with understanding when he met his gaze.
"I can't, Albus. I don't know how," he sighed, turning his gaze to the window once again.
"She's not entirely gone, you know," Albus whispered, dropping his hand to his side and stroking his beard as the younger wizard whirled to look at him, eyes swirling with confusion. "She lives on through your son, and always will," the old man said, and the younger snorted, his eyes rolling.
"And he has been raised upon the same lie as the rest of the world, believing his father to be a man that never existed," he replied, gaze darkened and eyes shadowed.
"Then give him one that does exist. Stop torturing yourself, and tell him about the past, his past and yours," Albus insisted, but the younger wizard ignored him in favor of the window, though his eyes shone with the faintest bit of familiar pain.
"I can't, Albus. He is safe, he is happy, and I'd give my life to keep it that way," he answered with a shake of his head, his hands fisting with determination.
"You can't suffer this way forever, Severus," Albus chided, and his companion snorted, as if saying in not so many words 'watch me.'
"Then my suffering will end with my life, so be it," the dark haired wizard replied, his dark eyes fixed with a disturbing sort of acceptance. Albus sighed in defeat and gave the other one last pat on the shoulder before heading toward the great hall.
"That's what I'm afraid of," the Headmaster whispered as he left, though the sound was lost in the vastness of the hallway. Severus turned away from the brightening window a moment later, and headed back down toward the dark solitude of his dungeons. Another day was beginning.
Notes:: In case I didn't explain clearly, Sev's pendant allows him to create a double of himself, of which he can change the appearance of at will, or he can use it to change his own appearance temporarily. The 'double' operates exactly as Sev would in its place, or exactly as he commands it too. The real Sev switched back and forth between roles as being himself in Slytherin, and 'James' in Gryffindor. Yeah, confusing I know…please email me and let me know if you catch any bugs so I can fix 'em! I'm not sure when this'll be updated again, though I wouldn't count on it being too soon. I want to finish AFS before I get really involved in anything else.
Hope you enjoyed!