“Headmaster, are you certain you want to go through with this?” he asked hesitantly as he continued with the letter. His quill dabbed the paper once more as he began the next sentence.
“Yes, Severus,” the headmaster replied, sitting down in the high-back chair painted in his portrait. He sighed as he watched his faithful spy pin yet another mysterious letter. The instructions weren’t quite clear. The reasoning was just as vague but Dumbledore was no ignorant fool. Even after his death, he knew what must be done in order for the side of the light to be victorious. The necessary steps that must be taken in order for the darkness to fall for good. “I know this may not make sense but believe me, it is important.”
“Very well, Sir,” Snape replied as he continued with the letter. The letter was to be sent to yet another wizard he did not know, nor had he ever heard of. “This isn’t the first time I have completed a task not knowing the complete reasons behind it.” He glanced back to the portrait. “Nothing short of mysterious you are, sir.” He continued to work at his new desk, well aware of the blue eyes staring at him thoughtfully.
“I . . . .” Dumbledore began, but stopped. He sighed. It was high time he told him. It would in his best interest to know. “I never had the opportunity to thank you, Severus.” His voice was barely a whisper but he knew he had been heard.
The quill in the new headmaster’s hand stopped as Snape turned to face the portrait. “Thank me, sir?” he questioned. “What for? I took your life, if you recall. And I . . .”
“On my order, Severus,” he interrupted. “On my order and request did you take my life.” He glanced around to the other portraits who nodded in agreement. “Not only did you keep another student from following down the wrong path, you also obeyed and risked your life many, many times over. All for her love. .”
“Stop!” Severus interrupted abruptly. He stood up violently, knocking his chair over as he went. “I do not wish to bring that up again!” He paced the floor from one end of the office to the other. “You know why I came to you for help. The reason why I chose to follow you,” Snape remarked as he stopped at the window. Down below he could see the black lake and the trees nearby. The memory of that evening flashed before his eyes and he blinked, trying to keep the tears at bay. “You needn’t remind me of it, day after day.”
“I wasn’t, my boy,” Dumbledore continued. His two dimensional eyes still held the twinkle the former Potions Master was use to seeing for so many years. “I was nearly stating the fact that of all the things you have done for me. . . . for this school . . . . for . . . Harry.” Dumbledore watched him flinch with the sound of his name. “You deserve a lot of thanks. Most of which, unfortunately, you may never receive. At least not from anyone but me.”
Snape returned to the desk and sat once more. Quill in hand, he dipped the end into the bottle of ink and continued with the letter. “Indeed, my status as a ‘Death Eater’ and the known killer of the greatest Headmaster that ever lived, would obviously blind the truth to anyone who wished to see it.” He sighed as he continued. “It is the life I chose and I . . . “ he paused as he glanced to the window once more. “I don’t regret it.”
Dumbledore glanced to the portraits of the former headmasters and smiled. “You know something, Severus?” he asked mischievously, a slight smile returning to his two-dimensional face. “I always thought you would have done well in Gryffindor.”
Snape turned to face the portrait once more. “Don’t make me loose what little I ate for dinner, headmaster.” He shuddered at the thought of it. Being in the same house as those damn Marauders? Strutting about the castle wearing red and gold? Sneering at the Slytherins and bravely sticking up for friends? “Not likely!”
“Oh but Severus,” Dumbledore continued. “Think of it now. Think of how your life would have been different. Think of how popular you would have been. How easy it would have been for you since you and her would have been in the same house.”
Snape pondered the thought only for moment before sighing. “Unfortunately, Headmaster, no one can change the past.” He turned to face the portrait. “Not even you, Albus Dumbledore.” He turned to face the mysterious letter once more. “Besides, think of all that would never had been accomplished had I not been a spy. How many lives would have been lost. How many plans of the Dark Lord’s would have succeeded had I not been there to intercept the information.” He paused and smirked. “The Dark Lord would never allow a Gryffindor into his closest inner circle.” He turned to the window as the sun began to sink ever slowly from the sky. “Even Pettigrew is kept at arms length, strictly because he wasn’t worthy enough to be sorted into Slytherin.” Memories of his childhood and his school years at Hogwarts flashed into his mind only to be suppressed once more by the new Headmaster. “No. . . . It was the best interest of everyone that I chose Slytherin.” The revelation was revealed quite by accident and the former Potions Master winced at his words.
“What?” came the disenchanted voice from the portrait. Dumbledore sat in his chair and placed his hands in his lap.
Snape sighed as he turned to face not only Dumbledore but also the rest of former headmasters. All, two-dimensional as they were, appeared to be dumbstruck. “I said I chose Slytherin.”
“Why would you do that?” came the voice of one of the oldest portraits in the room. The one of the only former Hufflepuff ever to make Headmaster.
“I had my reasons,” Snape replied vaguely as he turned back to the desk. No one was suppose to know that. He kept that quiet for all these years only to let it slip now.
“You know, Severus,” Dumbledore continued. “Not that many students have been given the opportunity to choose their own house. The hat may have asked their opinion but never actually gave them a choice. Only a select and intelligent few have been given that honor.” Dumbledore glanced to the other portraits before continuing. “I was one of them.”
Snape turned to stare at the portrait. “And you chose Gryffindor,” he stated almost silently. “I would have thought Ravenclaw.”
“I thought about it, but felt Gryffindor was the proper place for me. The hat overwhelmingly agreed.” Dumbledore replied, gesturing up towards the sorting hat. It sat unceremoniously atop a high shelf in the far corner. He glanced back to the new Headmaster. “What about you?”
Snape sighed as he thought back all those years ago. “Ravenclaw,” he whispered. “The hat thought I would do well in Ravenclaw.”
Several of the portraits, the ones who themselves had been former students of Ravenclaw, beamed with new found respect. “Yes indeed,” one of the portraits called out. “Indeed you would have, my boy.”
Snape glanced around to several of the portraits who agreed and smirked. “I appreciate the kind words,” he began. “But they are not well deserved.”
“Indeed they are, Severus,” Dumbledore continued. “Indeed they are.” Dumbledore watched the often mysterious man sitting in the headmasters chair. He knew Snape’s status as a spy would never be accepted by all and he would be forever marked as someone never to be trusted. Very little recognition would ever be received, if at all.
Snape sighed and continued his work with the mysterious letter. Completing it, he cast a drying spell over the ink before carefully folding the parchment into a small fold. He placed the letter within the pocket of a small envelope before placing the envelope into another, rather larger one. He sealed the back with wax and the school crest before turning the envelope over to address the front. Stopping, he turned to face the portrait once more. “Headmaster, are you certain?”
Dumbledore glanced to the other portraits before catching the eye of his most faithful spy. “Yes, Severus. It is of upmost importance that this mission succeed. Not only for the sake of the light but also for the sacrifices we all have made for victory.”
Snape turned and continued with the address. With the letter complete, he stood and walked over to the window. He carefully placed the letter into the beak of a waiting owl and watched as he flew out of the window and out of sight. “I do hope you know what you are doing, sir,” Snape stated aloud.
“So do I, dear boy,” Dumbledore replied. “So do I.”
I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. This is my entry for a story challenge by monkeyface. My chosen word was "Victory."
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