Dumbledore stood in his office looking out the window onto the shimmering lake outside. It wouldn't be long before a dark young man would arrive.
The door to Dumbledore's office was thrown open with a bang, which was a rather difficult feet considering the age and weight of the door that had been thrown.
"What is going on? There are rumors and whispers all over! Has the Dark Lord fallen? Is everything all right?" The man that stood before Dumbledore was often a man of few words, he spoke little unless addressed and often times did not have the patients or desire to communicate or spend time with others.
The truth was, the previous questions asked by the young man had been the most he had spoken in the last few months. There was urgency in the young man's voice and Dumbledore considered him self lucky to be one of the few that was allowed to see the man's seldom shared emotions.
"Severus, please take a seat won't you?" The wizard with the silvery beard motioned to a chair but the younger man wouldn't have it.
"Dumbledore, please tell me! Is everything alright, is everything going according to plan?"
The pleading look on the man's face made Dumbledore hesitate, perhaps he should share the good news first.
"The Dark Lord has been subdued." Dumbledore said as he approached Severus cautiously.
A small hopeful smile etched it's way across the man's thin mouth, "And… what about her?"
Dumbledore knew that there was no way around it, he had his wand on the desk near by incase the young man reacted poorly to the news, "Severus…" he started.
The small smile faltered and Severus took a step forward, "Where is she!" Severus yelled in a desperate tone.
"Lillie and James Potter did not survive his final attack." The old wizard said softly. He could see the light fade from Severus's eyes; his face grew pale and his mouth started to shake. He stumbled back and leaned against a wall almost sinking to the ground.
"No…" he said softly, everything he had done was for nothing, every risk he had taken, ever single person he had betrayed to deliver information to Dumbledore, it had all been to keep her safe and now she was… gone.
"You said you would keep her Safe."
"Lillie and James put their faith in the wrong person Severus, rather like you."
Severus felt his body lean against the cold walls of Dumbledore's office as anguish created havoc in his body; he fought the urge to fall to his knees. He kept his head turned away from the old wizard less he should let the tears fall from his eyes.
"The boy survives" Dumbledore said with encouragement, as if this would make Severus happy.
"He doesn't need protection, the dark lord is gone!" Severus slurred as his arm gestured to make his point. He felt his sweat follow the dried lines of his tears and swallowed as Dumbledore strode forward.
"The dark lord will return. And when he does the boy will be in terrible danger."
Severus felt the pain of loss surge through him again, for a moment he felt like he was going to lose all control, his body started to lean forward, perhaps he would vomit.
"He has her eyes…" The old wizard said.
The grief in Severus faltered and slowly came to a halt as the dark man's sharp eyes glanced up to look at the ancient man of whom he had put so much faith in. The boy was the spawn of a man that he truly hated, but if the child had Lillie's eyes perhaps…
"If you truly loved her…" Dumbledore trailed off again and Severus knew he had no choice. Lillie would have wanted him to… to do something with his life, even if half of the little brat had come from Potter.
Begrudgingly Severus finally said, "No one can know."
"I shall never reveal the best of you Severus."
"Your word!" Severus said as he pushed himself up from the wall.
Dumbledore gave a small hint of his all too common smile, "When you risk your life everyday to protect the boy…"
"Make no mistake Albus, I am doing this for Lillie, not for the boy and not for you. I bare no joy in knowing I will be stuck guarding Potter's son. No doubt the child will be as arrogant as his father."
"Only time will tell what Lillie's son's true nature will be. Let us just hope that he will be up to the tasks set before him in the future."
Severus didn't dwell, he turned on his heel and started to head towards the door, "Do hurry! There is much to be done tonight! Oh and Severus, the boy's name is…"
"Harry… I know." Severus said cutting the old man off, "A ridiculous name for a ridiculous child." And with that the dark haired man was gone.
Severus Snape stood outside of a house in Godric's Hollow. The roof was caved in and it seemed that all the windows in the house, save one, where dark and cold. He stared up at the house, feet planted on the hard stones of the street. His hand gripped the dark wooded handle of his wand. Severus then waited as he gathered the courage to enter.
The night was cold and the smell of dark magic and death swirled around him like a cloak. Severus knew what he would find inside, but part of him refused to believe it. Part of him hoped that somehow that dimwitted prick of a man had managed to defend Lillie. In his heart he knew though, before he even entered the house he could feel the emptiness.
Dumbledore had told him that the Potter's had been destroyed but for some reason he just couldn't believe that Lillie was dead. He couldn't let go of the small amount of hope that maybe Dumbledore had been misinformed. Severus knew he had to come see for himself, otherwise he would never truly believe that Lillie was gone.
His progression inside was slow, he peered around corners and his ears strained to listen for any sound. The silence was both a good sign and a bad one. Severus glanced up the stairs to his right and started to ascend. He froze momentarily when he noticed a pair of feet sticking out from the top hall.
He knew in that moment James Potter was dead, but instead of a triumphant smirk or a moment to soak in the fact that his cruel tormentor had been slaughtered, Severus moved on slowly down the hall. He only glanced at the wide blue eyes of the man who, for so long, had made his life a living hell.
The room with the only warm light was at the end of the hall. The doorframe blown from the wall and the door completely shattered into tiny pieces. A yellow dresser sat just inside the door, it was soaked with the warm yellow light of the lamp that lay strewn on the floor. Perhaps Lillie had managed to hide, perhaps she was okay and soon enough they could both put this all behind them.
Walking down that hall was the longest thirty seconds of his life as he approached and Severus felt his heartbeat grow faster and felt it pound against his chest harder and harder. It took a lot to shake Severus up; he had grown up through a lot of pointless pain and humiliation. But in this moment, he shook and subconsciously he was begging anyone who would listen to let her be all right.
He pressed on through the crumbled doorway and felt all the breath leave his lungs in a surge of disbelief. There she was, on the floor with her eyes staring off into a special void that she would never actually see.
Severus felt his legs go weak and he leaned against the wall before sliding to his knees. As he tried desperately to catch his breath he managed to shuffle forward and pull Lille onto his lap. Tears soaked his face and dripped off his chin onto her cheeks and lips. He held her tight and rocked her back and forth letting the anguish wash through him and rip from his dry throat.
In Severus's whole life he had never had a friend so strong and true, so loyal and fierce and he had never loved anyone the way he had loved her. It would have been close to worship had he actually allowed himself to share his feelings with her. Share them the way he had always wanted to, and now it was to late and she was dead and he would never truly be able to redeem him self. Her beautiful green eyes would remain cold, hollow and empty and there was no potion or spell he could use to bring her back.
"I am so sorry Lillie…" Severus whispered to her, "Please forgive me, please…please."
Severus felt something gently touching his hair and he pulled away to turn his head with a scared snap. Behind him in the crib was a little baby boy who had tears in his eyes. The boy had stopped crying long enough to reach through the bars and gently play with Severus's long black hair.
Severus allowed a sigh to escape, some of his anxiety and sadness going with it. He didn't pay any attention to the child at first. He leaned back against the crib and shut his eyes allowing the better memories of Lillie to come forward and fill his twisted mind. She was the only source of light in his life and so to his memories brought a small amount of light to his thoughts and a very small genuine smile curved his lips.
He held Lillie still closer, trying to grasp at the memories that would bring him the most comfort in these last few moments he had with her. A small hand landed on his cheek and tiny fingernails gently scratched at his clammy skin. A soft coo came from behind and Severus finally couldn't ignore the elephant in the room. He opened his eyes and slowly turned his head. There before him was Harry Potter, no bigger then a size 2 cauldron. Severus studied his dark brown wisps of hair and glanced at the bloody scar on his forehead.
It wasn't until he saw the child's eyes that he knew Dumbledore had been right. Lillie's eyes stared back at him and not even Severus could deny the intelligence that hid in them. Only time would tell if he would be as smart and kind as his mother or as egocentric and putrid as his father.
The child had met his eyes long enough to establish that Severus meant him no harm and that just maybe this man would feed him. He continued to play with the man's hair and leaned forward to try and put the tips of the strands in his mouth. Severus's tired red eyes watched the child but didn't put up any fight. Instead he allowed his grip on Lily to lessen. Harry reached out and grabbed Severus's nose, the man didn't move and Harry smiled and giggled wickedly as he squeezed and waited for something to happen. The pale man took in a deep breath when he noticed the similarities between Harry's smile and his mothers.
Allowing himself to stand, Severus lifted Lily and crossed the room to place her gently in the light blue rocking chair in the corner. He took a quilt, which was on the ground and shook the room's debris from it. Gently placing it over her still body Severus became aware of the sudden sniffles from behind him. He turned to see Harry reaching through the bars of his crib towards the covered form of his mother.
He was barely able to say it, he was still so little but Severus could just barely make out his attempts of calling for her, "MU, MU MUMU MU MU." Sending bits of baby dribble falling down his chin and onto his chest, the boy squirmed and tried to stand.
Severus looked around the room and saw a small chest of drawers that had pictures resting on top of it. He slowly approached and picked up the biggest of the frames. The picture showed Lily holding baby Harry and slowly turning as she danced with him in her arms. They were both smiling and laughing and in that instant Severus saw the love, kindness and beauty of Lily wrapped up in the tiny vessel that was baby Harry.
Though his heart was aching like it never had before Severus glanced at the still form that was Lily and then turned to the baby who was now starting to cry again as he looked up at Severus. The man knew what Lily would have wanted him to do.
Severus kept watch out the dark windows of the Potter's house; he carried Harry in the crook of his right arm and held a bottle with his left. People were starting to gather outside. Most of them were Magic folk and not to be worried about, the few that appeared to be Muggles were staring at their neighbors whom they had never seen dress so strangely.
The whispers from the people were starting to grow and Severus could hear them through the holes and cracks in the front windows. Harry suddenly refused the bottle and started to grunt and coo as tears filled his eyes.
"Maybe you are just as spoiled as your father." Severus hissed as he set the bottle down and not so gently pressed the boy to his shoulder. He started to pat firmly and eventually heard the little hiccup and burp he was looking for.
Any other requirements for the child's care would have to wait at this point because Severus heard a large crash from the back of the house near the kitchen. Laying the boy down on the couch and covering him with a blanket was the best he could do as he drew his wand and started his journey through the house.
When Severus reached the kitchen he allowed his eyes to scan the room and felt himself sigh in frustration when he realized whom Dumbledore had sent to collect the boy.
"Severus? What yer doing 'ere?" Came Hagrid's gruff voice.
"Never mind. Follow me." Severus said putting his wand away and turning to lead the giant oaf back towards the front entryway. It was interesting to hear the colossal man fit through the narrow doorframes and down the skinny halls of a regular sized house. There were a lot of grunts and shifting as Hagrid followed as quickly as his size would allow.
Severus picked up the boy and removed the blanket from his face, "He has been fed and I changed him into travel clothes. He is as prepared as he can be for his journey to Surey." Severus kept his voice low and even, making sure to keep as much emotion out of it as he could.
Hagrid looked surprised but didn't seem like he had any other reason to stay. They stood there in silence and Severus felt a nerve in his face twitch. Suddenly Hagrid gave a great big sniff and a sigh, "Bless me, 'is eyes looks jus like 'is mommies." In the dark Severus couldn't be sure but he thought there was a small smile hidden in the dense thickness that was the giant's beard.
"Oh dear, is she still…" Hagrid's head motioned towards the stairs and then he looked down at young Harry.
Severus didn't want to tell the giant beast of a man anything but the last thing he wanted was for the man to try to make it up the stairs to see for himself.
"Yes." Severus said slow and evenly, his eyes stared off into the dark as he struggled to keep his composure.
"All righ' then. I'll take 'im ter Dumbledore and make sure 'es safe n' sound. Thanks Severus." Hagrid said turning to go, he was a few feet away when he hesitated and turned, "Did you uh, change 'is…. You know." Hagrid said nodding toward the boy as he looked back to the dark man.
Severus held his blank face and with out saying a word strode past the man and up the stairs. It wasn't his responsibility now; the boy was out of the picture. The giant could handle any of the more difficult issues with the child; Severus had to take care of someone else.
It had been a few days since Voldermort had supposedly been defeated and the Wizarding world was still rejoicing. Severus sat in the dark corner of a pub taking large swigs from a frothy beverage that smoked and bubbled whenever he set it down.
Every so often, when his drink would empty, he would tap the tip of his glass with his wand, which then would be refilled with very strong ale. He watched as the people around him drank, sang and danced to rejoice and celebrate the end of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. There were even a Goblin or two who had shown up and were now currently struggling to get the bar master's attention.
Many of these people had been here over night and the pub hadn't closed or kicked them out. It was Severus's assumption that the Bar Master too was celebrating with his patrons. The sun was just over the horizon and the man in the corner could tell by the color of the sky that it was time to go.
Severus took one last swig of his drink before he stood and pulled his cloak on around his neck. He left a sickle on the table and strode out, many of the people watching him go.
The cool morning air was a relief after the hot stuffy atmosphere of the pub, and Severus allowed his cloak to flow out and around him so that some of the heat could escape. He had always preferred the cold days of winter to the sweltering nights of summer. He moved quickly down the road and eventually came to a bend; he turned and walked down further until he came to his destination.
The cemetery seemed more welcoming to him then the pub had and he basked in the silence and the smell of the pines.
"Here rather early aren't you Severus?" Came a kindly voice from behind him.
Hiding a sneer Severus turned, "I wanted to enjoy the quiet before all the others showed and marred my memories of her with the falsities of their friendship."
"It is said that one man's perception of the people he loves can be twisted and skewed into self deprivation when he stands alone and not with others."
"Once again Dumbledore, your ability to speak so eloquently only compliments the timing to which you always seem to appear." Severus barked back.
"Severus, I understand that things have been complicated for you these past few days…."
"Understand? You don't understand anything." Severus snapped as he turned his back to the old wizard and gazed down into the dark hole that would soon eat up the woman whom he still dreamed of.
"I only wish to give my condolences and to offer you…"
"What could you possibly offer me? I have only ever wanted one thing from you in my entire life and that was to protect and keep Lily safe. You couldn't do that and what's worse you come here to offer condolences and philosophical entrails."
"I came here to offer you a position at Hogwarts."
The silence between them rang clear as the morning birds and the pines stood listening to see what the younger man's reaction would be.
"A position… at the school?" Severus said with a hint of confusion and wonder in his voice.
"Indeed. You would be Potions Master and the head of the house of Slytherine. I would also allow a permanent home for you there as long as you would like to stay."
He thought a moment and then, "Potions Master? Why not Defense Against the Dark Arts…. Considering what I have been doing the past year, perhaps you should consider the benefits of having a former Death-Eater teaching Defense. I have experience with the Dark Arts and could surely be more beneficial to the school and it's students in that position."
"Surely this is true, but there is a new young man who has already received the position. He is also quite adequate and he shows much promise. I think he will go over very well with the students and staff. I imagine Potions Master would be a better position at the moment due to…."
"You don't think the other teachers would trust me teaching that position considering what I've done in the past." Severus said glancing at the headstone. The sight of Lily's name upon it almost made him wretch up the ale he had drank down only a little bit ago.
"That is not what I was implying, many of the teachers are excited to meet you in fact. They have heard that you helped supply important information. But the truth is, you are a genius when it comes to potions, and I believe that your skills and abilities in that area could truly enhance student's perception of potion making I dare say you could have been a protégée had Slughorn gotten his hands on you."
"Flattery doesn't work on me Dumbledore." Severus said in a stony tone.
Dumbledore sighed and pulled from his bright purple cloak a box of buttered taffies. "Alas, you are quit perceptive. I shall give you another truth then, there will be a particular student I would ask you to keep an eye on in the years to come."
Severus's head snapped to look at the man and his eyes grew narrow, "Potter?"
"His name is already down to be accepted when he comes of age. Until then, you could work as a member of our faculty. I would only request you check in on the boy once a month to see how he is coming along and report back to me as needed."
"And once he comes of age to attend school? Surely you don't expect me to be friends with the boy?"
"I should say not, I am well aware of the issues that lay in rest with your thoughts of the child. He is after all, half of his father as well as his mother. The turmoil you feel towards the boy will not be something you can easily remove Severus. Do you remember the conversation we had before you came here that night? Before you came to find Lily."
Severus felt his heart start to pump faster and his eyes shut in bitter defeat.
"Voldamort will return Severus, and I find you are the best hope the boy has of surviving. Of all the people that Lily would want to protect her son I am sure you would be the one."
"You cannot say things like that in full certainty. You do not know, the last time we talked she told me she never wanted to see me again. I am fairly certain that means she did not have any intentions for me to become the guardian of her child. Besides, I recently became aware of the fact that Potter left the care of his son to that fool Sirius Black. So the promise I made in your office is void. Offer Black a job and have him watch the boy if you are so concerned."
"Sirius Black is currently under the inquiry of the Ministry Severus. He may not be able to care for Harry in the near future, if he is preoccupied with Dementores. That is why I have asked you. "
Severus felt his brow furrow and he turned his head sideways to look at the elderly wizard with confusion.
"What?" Severus asked.
"The ministry believes that Sirius's loyalty needs to be taken into consideration." Dumbledore said, there was a tone in the man's voice; he apparently did not believe they were valid suspicions.
"There are rumors that he was in line with Voldermort. Some rumors say that he is the one who led the dark lord to Godric's Hollow. In any case, Peter Pettigrew is dead."
Severus felt his breath hitch in his throat. Black had been a lot of things, including a dog and a cad. But a traitor? There had been many times when Black had done things for Potter that no one else ever would. There had been rumors of their inseparability. Had Lily not turned Potter's head many would have considered the two men a couple. They were brothers though, first and foremost. Severus had hated them with ever fiber of his being but he knew that Black would have died rather then betray his friends.
"I am not sure… Black wouldn't… I was never aware of Black in the Dark Lord's circle… I would have known..." Severus trailed off and couldn't bring himself to defend the man. Deep down Severus knew Black would have died for Lily, just like Black would have died for Potter. They were more loyal to each other then dogs to a master, it made Severus sick to think of it. However, the words of reassurance and defense wouldn't leave his lips.
"Do you not believe Sirius is capable of such atrocity?" Dumbledore seemed to press.
"I don't think…." Severus stopped himself, however, because there were murmurs coming from just outside the cemetery.
"We will finish this conversation at a later time. Send me an owl no later then the end of this month if you wish to accept my offer." Dumbledore placed his hand on the younger man's shoulder and gave it a reassuring squeeze. He then turned and headed to the entrance of the cemetery to greet the others.
After that Severus kept his distance. He watched all the ceremony, listened to all the speeches and kept to the shadows of the trees. He paid little attention when James was lowered but when Lily was lowered he couldn't keep his eyes off the casket. They would be buried together; to some it would seem romantic. To Severus it meant that any time he came to visit he would have to see James's names right next to hers.
This was only the beginning of Severus's torment, but little did he know that his torment would drive him to take part in the greatest lie ever told. This was the beginning of his destiny.