Pale moonlight fell across a flickering candle and alighted on faded black robes. The figure wearing them heaved a heavy sigh, thinking, For the greater good? Why do I feel like everything good has finally ended? He shifted, white hands brushing over yellowed parchment that languished on the oaken desk. We’ve played so many games, Albus. What fools we mortals be!
The figure sighed again and leaned forward. Severus Snape’s face was etched with sadness and defeat, the flame of the candle turning the hollows of his pale cheeks into grotesque shapes. Coal black eyes raked over the letter, reading it for the fifth time. Albus had written of the ‘need for strength and surety’ in the wake of his death. He had even addressed Severus’ eminent promotion to Headmaster of Hogwarts.
‘You must guard the children as best you can, Severus. Tom and his Death Eaters will test you more when you are headmaster than at any other time. I know you will weather this storm. I know it will change you. Be wary and, as Alastor is fond of saying, be constantly vigilant.
‘Remember too, Severus, redemption is yours when you allow yourself to have it.’
Redemption. He had done so many things wrong in his life, had spent years trying to earn redemption. What did Albus know of the things that clawed at Severus’ heart? All of these things he had done… the lies, the spying, the misdirection… what had they been for? The spoilt brat-of-a-child Potter?
No! he chided himself. Harry had proven he was not Potter’s progeny alone. Yes, there was so much of James in the child, in his face and his Quidditch skills, but Lily was ever present. It was not just the boy’s eyes; it was in his smile and his quiet confidence.
Perhaps that was why Severus had found himself so angry whenever he saw the boy. He was a painful reminder of the woman he loved and had lost. Lily had been a source of strength to him. If things at home became too much, he could escape to the park, and soon she would be there. She would comfort him. “All those bad things, Sev,” she’d say, “let them go.”
A tear slipped down the man’s cheek. What had possessed him to be so stupid in his youth? Idiotic pride had blinded him, pushed away the one person who had ever really trusted him. Then, the Dark Lord had taken the sweet woman away forever.
Severus had vowed that Halloween night he would bring about that man’s downfall however he could. There was no price too steep for revenge. It was why he’d gone to Albus and agreed to his terms of slavery. For a few years, it had been easy. It almost felt like mockery to call it spying. He’d met with Lucius and several other Death Eaters now and then, joined in their parties and toasts to the Dark Lord. He even followed when Muggle-hunting-and-torture parties were arranged, but always, always listening for whispers or rumors of the Dark Lord’s eventual return.
1 September 1991 had changed everything. Severus had tried to ready himself, but seeing Lily staring at him from James’ face had been a punch to the gut. Everything, all of the hate and pride, the loss and sorrow, and the anger, had come rushing back. It slammed into him like a speeding train. He found it difficult to stop himself from lashing out in spite.
Harry deserved none of the vile remarks and scathing insults that Severus had thrown at him. It was impressive that rarely did the boy rise to Severus’ bait, showing Lily’s level head in those situations. True, there were the times when James’ temper was let loose, but Harry really was such an amalgam of his parents.
Severus shook his head, wishing away the tears. He should find some way to apologize to the young man. There must be something I can do, he thought as his eyes swept around the room. They landed on the Pensieve.
Of course. The thing that had caused the worsening of their… relationship. Harry had seen Severus’ most hated memory and had seen his father in a different light. Perhaps, Severus could show both himself and Lily in another light as well. He studied the artifact a moment longer and decided. Yes, it would be perfect. Now, he just needed a vial.
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