Snape hurriedly pushed passed any Death Eaters in his way as he ascended the dank winding stairs leading to the chamber Lord Voldermort resided in at the top of the castles main tower. He wasn't in control of his breathing and he was dizzy with it, if he was in a sounder mind he would reconsider his actions to be too dangerous but what he had just heard from Lucius Malfoy had alarmed him to the point of deliriousness.
He had enough nous left to at least knock and wait; bursting into a room that contained Lord Voldermort would result in being greeted with the Criusous curse at the very least. He stood waiting just long enough for his senses to regain control.
"Enter" came a venomous voice, the sound of some one you would not want to interrupt. Snape quietly walked into the room, closing the door softly behind him. As if that would make a difference.
"Severus, your visit is unannounced. Do you have more information for me?" Voldermort was sitting on a throne like chair that faced a window to the west, taking in a view for miles around.
"No my Lord" he walked into Voldermort's line of sight but kept as much distance as possible.
"So why do you feel you can disturb me?" His eyes near slits, his lips curled displaying his pointed teeth
"Its about the prophecy Sir"
"Yes, you have done well, we have narrowed it down to two boys, I trust Malfoy has told you it's the Potters?" Voldermort grinned with sickening vindictiveness "All we need now is a little time to locate them, but I have people working on that"
For one moment there seemed a shadow of hope "But it might be the other boy you mentioned, maybe it isn't the Potters" The words stumbled awkwardly from Snapes lips in almost a whisper, like someone else was saying them.
"Are you questioning my instincts Snape?" Each word was sharp with his short temper.
"No sir - no master" Snape fell away, bowing with subservience, he could see The Dark Lord was getting increasingly irritated and yet he carried on unable to stop himself
"My Lord, Lily Evans..Lily Potter, you need to kill the boy but not her, she is of no danger to you" The words were coming out all wrong; his heart was pounding, he couldn't convey the what he needed to say in the right order
"So now you are telling me what I can or can't do!" Voldermort got out of the chair and walked directly at him
"No never, Lord -please.." Snape knelt at Voldermort's feet "spare her, I beg you kill the others but Master please not her"
Voldermort was revolted by this twisted display of humanity "Since when have you known me to show mercy?" He kicked Snape hard in the ribs "Now get up and remember who you are"
Snape stumbled painfully to his feet, Voldermort jabbed his wand into his chest "I shall hear no more of this do you understand?" He hissed "One more word and I'll have the Imperius Curse make you do it for me"
"No sir!" He would die before he would let that happen.
Voldermort turned his back and Snape coward into the shadows. The Dark Lord stood motionless for a few moments and Snape stared at the back of his head, desperately wishing he could read his mind, change his thoughts.
Then, oddly, Voldermort let out a sigh,
"This is what I will do for you Severus" Snape's black eyes lit up "Firstly I will not kill you, even though I should for your impertinence, if you hadn't had been so valuable to me recently, then I would make no qualm of it. But I will also give you the pick of any of the female Death Eaters, pureblood, wealthy, anyone you choose and they will be yours. I have showed you great leniency tonight, like I have shown no other. Work these childish ways out of your system and do not insult me again."
Snapes greasy black hair lay tangled across his face and behind his eyes filled with tears. His heart was breaking.
At that moment then, he realised he was deeply afraid, not for himself, not of The Dark Lord, but of his thought process, his logic, he was not human, he didn't understand anything about being human.
Voldermort spun around expecting an answer
"Thank you Master" Snape quickly supplied it, bowing low to hide his tears
"Now get out"
"Yes my Lord" He said, his hands holding his ribs, back hunched, head low, daring to look only at the ground in front of him.
He hid in the dark recess of the corridor outside of the Voldermorts chamber, gathering himself, suppressing his emotions for the long walk down, through the various gatherings of fellow Death Eaters he would have to encounter. Whether it was a sudden moment of clarity or whether they'd finally killed that Auror they'd been torturing, Snape smelt the stench of the hot thick air all around him. He had to get out, into the open.
We walked slowly but directly towards the main gates, nonchalantly acknowledging anyone who spoke to him, but his stride did not break. As soon as he was clear of the castle, he turned to the East, walking into a sharp wind, into the baron wilderness. He wanted the wind to cut through him and blow away the guilt clinging to his insides.
It was over, there was nothing he could do and it was his entire fault. He'd got Lily killed. Someone was going to die, he knew that when he relayed what he had heard of the prophecy, but people died all the time, he never considered who, he hadn't thought to care. His thoughts had been consumed with politics and loyalty to The Dark Lord. Politics between Death Eater rivalry, politics of pure blood wizards that was just too ironic; he was a half blood, so was The Dark Lord.
He couldn't reconcile that this was it. There must be something he could do? Something to reverse what he had done. If he knew where she lived he could rescue her.
But she would never go
So much time had passed since their school days. If he couldn't convince her then that he didn't think of her as a mudblood whilst being tortured and humiliated, how could he convince her now - as a Death Eater - to leave her house, her family and flee. Snape felt in the pit of his stomach that she had been proved right about him all along.
If only he could go back there, to that day, when it all went so horribly wrong. Why did he sit in the sunshine when he could have stayed in the Slytherin common room? If he'd had just stayed out of the way. If he could just go back there and change things.
. that was the answer; Hogwarts.
Albus Dumbledore was one of the only wizards left that could rival Lord Voldermort. And fight vigorously he did.
But this was dangerous, Snape shuddered and spun round, he could almost feel a presence behind him, the presence of The Dark Lord burrowing into his mind, sucking out his thoughts. He'd mentally built many barriers over the years in paranoia. But he knew the actions that he was about to take, if they were ever found out, if his guard slipped for a fraction, his future would leave him begging for the Dementors kiss to finally come.
This was treason, but as long as she lived, consequences were not important.
But the concept was full of flaws, he couldn't get anywhere near Dumbledore or Hogwarts without being killed or captured and sent to Azkaban. After he had betrayed Dumbledores trust so blatantly after his job interview, how could he be taken seriously? How on earth would he be able to get Dumbledore on neutral ground? Snape wasn't walking in a direction any more; he was pacing the ground deep in thought, running scenarios through his mind.
He had an idea, but it involved using magic he hadn't used since his days at Hogwarts. Most of the magic he now used was dark and harsh and approved my Voldermort.
He apparated as close to Hogwarts as he dared, amongst the densely wooded hills a few miles away from Hogsmeade. He was on a hilltop where all around him was the din of the trees rustling and the wind howling. It was hard to concentrate with the wind whipping through his clothes and blowing his hair in every direction, but he closed his eyes and thought of Lily.
.the last time he saw her, she had just got married, she was in her house brushing her hair in front of the mirror. And then he walked in.
This was no good.
Someone must have spotted him spying because they moved days after. He thought further back, to their school days..
..it was the summer holidays after their first year at Hogwarts, and they spent every day in the sunshine, in the woods or the park or walking through the fields. Her sister wasn't there; it was just the two them talking about their past year. Talking about spells they learnt and ones they couldn't master, about their different common rooms and the teachers they laughed at, teachers they hated, the homework the always hated, about flying and Quidditch and how they were missing pumpkin juice. It was their world, their own world and it was wonderful. It was the happiest time of Snapes life.
"Expecto Patronum" A stunning silver doe burst from the end of his wand and cantered upwards into the sky; over the hills and village, towards the towers of the castle beyond.
When the distant radiance of the doe was finally was out of sight, Snape was left alone with the rushing wind all around him. It ferociously moved the branches of the trees making it impossible to tell if anyone was out there. He looked all round in all directions and started to panic. What if Dumbledore didn't come or if someone else had followed him, another Death Eater or The Dark Lord himself? What if Dumbledore did come and he wouldn't listen or didn't even give him the opportunity to speak? His plan lynched on Dumbledore being reasonable, there was no cause to believe that he would be, since he was aware that Snape had overheard the conversion about the prophecy he had had with Trelawney. He knew Snape would inform Voldermort immediately.
Snape was now petrified but his feet wouldn't move. He didn't notice the doe had returned, it flew high above his head and disappeared. He was convincing himself over and over again that good men like Dumbledore would welcome the opportunity to save life.
Then out of nowhere a flash of light knocked him off his feet, his wand flew out of his hands into the darkness of the undergrowth. Snape threw his hands into the air
"Don't kill me"
"That wasn't my intention" Dumbledore stood in front of him, great and powerful, the light from his wand illuminating his face, the wind rippling through his cloak. "Well Severus? What message does Lord Voldermort have for me?"
"No - no message - Im here of my own account! I - I come with a warning - no a request - please"
Dumbledore flicked his wand and silence fell over them. The trees swayed violently in the wind but they did so in deathly silence.
"What request does a Death Eater make of me?" Dumbledore frowned quizzically
"The - the prophecy . the prediction. Trelawney .."
"Ah yes, how much did you relay to Lord Voldermort?" said Dumbledore
"Everything - everything I heard, that is why - it is for that reason - he thinks it means Lily Evans!" Snape blurted awkwardly.
Dumbledore feigned confusion; "The prophecy did not refer to a woman, it spoke of a boy born at the end of July"
"You know what I mean" Snape jumped in "He thinks it means her son, he is going to hunt her down - kill them all!"
Dumbledore looked at him sideways "If she means so much to you surely Lord Voldermort would spare her? Could you not ask for mercy for the mother in exchange for her son?"
"I have - I have asked him"
Dumbledore glared with utter revulsion "You disgust me"
Snape only just realised how the words would sound in context with the normal world as apposed to world Voldermort had them all living in these passed few years.
"You do not care then" Dumbledore went on "about the death of her husband and child? They can die, as long as you have what you want?"
Snape thought that a fairly accurate assumption (even pleasing) but dare not say it, his big black eyes looked up into Dumbledores face and he said "Hide them all, keep her - them - safe. Please" as much as it pained him, as much as he hated Potter he'd still preferred her to spend her life with him than not at all.
"And what will you give me in return Severus?" said Dumbledore
Snape was shocked "In - in return?" This wasn't a question he had expected to be asked, by Dumbledore; Voldermort maybe..
"Anything" he said trembling at the thought that he might have saved her.
Dumbledore raised his eyebrows, maybe there was some humanity left in there somewhere. He paused for a few moments and paced for effect whilst Snape followed his every movement.
"Very well" He finally said "But your debt is deep, you are a servant to me now and I shall call upon you whenever necessary"
Snape nodded, his head was spinning, it didn't really register. His life had never been his own; it no longer made a difference who was pulling his strings. Dumbledore disapparated and the rushing noise returned.
He was now alone and he felt vulnerable for it. He would have to protect himself, regain The Dark Lords respect, prove his activities as a loyal servant, be seen networking with the other Death Eaters.
Snape returned to the open wilderness surrounding The Dark Lords castle. Moments later there was a crack of light. Snape whipped out his wand fearing the worse, but it was only lightning following by a great rumbling sound of thunder. The rain fell thick and fast, driven sideways in the wind. He opened his arms and held his head back letting the rain soak through his layers of clothes to his skin.
He laughed out into the night, into the rain and the wind. Relief had overcome him - the guilt, the grief, he could feel it start to release him. Dumbledore had given him his word, she would be safe and free!
The laughter soon turned to a yell, a cry out, carried far away as soon as it left Snapes lips. He fell to his knees grasping his sodden hair in his hands. He had a rush of overwhelming realisation that Lord Voldermort would not stop until he got what he wanted. A war would rage with the Potters at the very centre. If the Aurors protected them, The Dark Lord would be more convinced he was right.
He just wouldn't ever stop until they were all dead.
There was no wizard, dead or alive, Auror or Death Eater that could defeat Lord Voldermort. He doubted even Professor Dumbledore really fully understood the dark evil power that resided within him.
The flashes of lightning lit the whole sky as if it was daylight. Nothing could ever be the same and it was his entire fault.
Against the driving rain and the black sky Snape didn't notice a carriage pulled by four thersterals descending towards him. Only when he felt the thud of hooves on the earth did he look up in time to jump out of the way as the winged beasts cantered to a stop inches from where he had knelt, kicking up mud as they sped by.
The carriage was black and silver with the Malfoy crest on the door. One of the blacked out windows opened revealing Narssisa Malfoy surrounded by the warm light from within. She was pale and beautiful, her golden tresses dancing in the wind.
They looked at one another motionless but for the wind for a few moments until Narssisa took charge.
"I noticed you are still a fair way from the castle, we are going to visit Lucius, do you want to join me" She shouted out of the window they were only feet apart but the wind acted as a barrier
Snape, intentionally not hearing the question asked "Why are you not apparating?" squinting in the pool of light coming from inside the carriage.
"Because it is of opinion that one shouldn't appartate with infants under the age of two." She said looking down briefly out of sight to where she held her son
Snape looked at the four thesterals. "Are you alone? It isn't safe to travel alone" He shouted back at her, barely audible in the howling wind
Narssisa let out a "Ha!" as if insulted "I can assure you that I am perfectly capable of travelling alone, but if you would like to accompany me that would be quite acceptable"
Snape backed away from the carriage, having no account for being where he was at such late hour he could find no credibility for his actions and wished Narssisa had never stopped. "No...no thank you Narssisa, I too am perfectly capable of arriving at the castle in my own time." He said, his sarcasm lost in the cracks of thunder.
Narssia let out and exaggerate sigh "I should hate to have to tell Lucius that you declined my hospitality, he will be most displeased with me" Her voice was harsh with the strain of shouting over the storm, her manner was very formal but her eyes we kind. It wasn't the first time she had come across a Death Eater broken by his own crimes. In her experience, any such indiscretion was best kept to oneself and not spoke of amongst others.
"No wait" Snape shouted at she slammed the window shut, but she opened the door and he stepped inside.
Narssia was holding her young infant who slept soundly in her arms. He was wrapped in a black cashmere blanket. She didn't wince or complain as he dripped mud and water over the polished floor and the soft grey leather seats draped with think black furs. She spoke freely and softly about being a new mother and how her son was growing so fast and showing signs of magic already. Her monologue was mundane and tedious but her voice was soothing. She didn't ask questions like 'why' or 'where' because she decided a long time ago that she chose to see and hear only what she wanted to. What happened between a Death Eater and night, stayed between a Death Eater and the night.
She suddenly seemed to snap out of her musing, back to the present, now noticing how Snape sat awkwardly holding his side, soaked through, his black windswept hair dripping water down his face. "Ho I am sorry Severus, where are my manners" She took out her wand and counted across the sliver drawers above the seats, tipped her wand and one of the drawers flew open and a black towel flew out.
"That cost 900 galleons so you will return it washed and ironed."
Snape looked down at the Malfoy crest embroidered onto the towel in his hands
Surely, a towel's a towel?
But as with most objects owned by a witch or wizard it quivered and then preceded to suck all the moisture out of Snapes clothes and hair until it was ball shaped - yet still completely dry to touch. As good as it was to be dry again, he wondered what he was supposed to do with it now.
Narssisa smiled, rolling her eyes, the young boy stirred in his sleep as the carriage jolted in the air, but soon settled with his mothers gentle rocking.