Chapter 1 : Regret
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Dull pain was reverberating in his chest, all but eating him alive. If he’d cared, he’d have realised it was coming from his heart, slow, throbbing, suffocating him slowly.
It did not matter, though. His Lily. She was dead. She was as good as dead.
It was all Potter’s fault, he’d taken her away. He himself would have taken his Lily to safety, he wouldn’t be in this mess, would be content to live with her, far far away from all this politics and pureblood racism.
It was Dumbledore’s fault, he should never have allowed a …, someone like Lily to fight in this war, the old man should have known he could as well have put a target on her back, he should have stopped her from fighting.
It was his own fault, his own stupid mistake. He stumbled into this, craving the chance to get back at that blood-traitor Potter and his group of bullies, wipe that incessant smirk off Black’s face and see him cower in fear; make the half-breed realise he wasn’t worth studying in a prestigious school like Hogwarts alongside descendants of ancient wizarding families. He’d wanted to make Potter suffer for all the grief he’d caused Lily, who had constantly complained about the prat to him, ruining almost every conversation Severus ever had with her, occupying Lily’s mind to the extent she didn’t listen to his own problems any more.
He’d thought he would impress her with his new power, that he could protect her from harm if he could get close enough to the leader of this new movement. That she’d come running to him for protection. He should have known better. After all this years, he should have known better. Lily would never back down just because she might get hurt; she’d stand up for what she thought was right. He hadn’t considered that, not really, but this was the reason she was a Gryffindor after all. He should have known she didn’t need – or didn’t want – his protection. He was her downfall.
And he’d craved the power, oh yes he had. His father, a muggle who took out his frustrations on his son and a wife who was too broken to fight back anymore. He’d learned early off the cruelty of Muggles, the beliefs the Dark Lord preached had found fertile ground within the boy who’d experienced this one Muggle’s cruelty first-hand. Lily’s parents had always treated him politely; he’d suspected they had to be somewhat decent to create someone as wonderful as Lily; but Petunia had shown him nothing but disdain. Life in Spinner’s End was cruel, everyone had been to busy with their own petty problems to show any kindness towards a neglected, introverted boy who seemed to attract the strangest occurrences. No, Muggles hadn’t ever shown him any kindness, he didn’t have a reason to treat them as his equals.
He’d been the half-blood in Slytherin, his blood-status had always been a part of him, there was no getting rid of that. He’d redeemed himself, showing his brilliance in potions and his aptitude for new spells and his ever-growing thirst and knack for figuring out dark magic. He’d made a reputation for himself, the Half-Blood Prince would not allow anyone to trample on him. Except for those Gryffindor boys. He had sworn they’d hear from him again, away from the school and the watchful eyes of their teachers. He’d show them who they’d messed with, and they would come to regret it.
He’d earned the respect, finally, among this new circle; he was valued for what he was. No one in their right mind would dare cross Severus Snape, one of the Dark Lord’s protégés. He, in his foolishness, had believed his ambition had come true, being someone who had the Dark Lord’s ear.
But he hadn’t. The Dark Lord didn’t listen to anyone, not ever. He’d dangle that reward in front of his Death Eaters’ noses, making them fight for his good graces like a pack of young dogs, stringing them along from one atrocity to another. He could see that now, could see it with a clarity that had evaded him up until now.
He’d been entrusted with yet another mission, not of any real consequence. He was to meet a Goblin representative in the Hog’s Head, the Dark Lord had selected him because he trusted him to be a match for the workings of a Goblin’s sly mind. The Goblin hadn’t given him an inch; he had concluded the meeting with the promise of another, playing along with the creature’s game.
Uncharacteristically for him, he stalled a bit, brooding over a shot of fire-whiskey how to best report the outcome of the meeting to his master, when Albus Dumbledore had entered the shoddy pub. Dumbledore and the bartender had exchanged a few short words, then he’d gone upstairs. On a whim, he used the opportunity when the old bartender served customers in another part of the pub, he’d slipped up the stairs as well.
The interview he overheard hadn’t been interesting at all, he’d contemplated leaving when he heard the woman’s voice change.
“The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches ... Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies ... And the Dark Lord will mark him as equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not ... And either must die at the hand of the other for neither can live while the other survives.”
He’d been so caught up in the words, and how this revelation would make up for failing to bring the negotiations with the Goblin to a more satisfactory end, he hadn’t seen the door open, and looked into the eyes of his former headmaster. He’d muttered an apology about searching for the loo, retreating as quickly as possible.
He’d felt the glee bubble uncontrollably in the pit of his stomach. This would ensure his position at the Dark Lord’s side, guaranteeing him power and over the others.
He told his master what he’d heard, standing tall in the certainty of his new importance.
“This boy may not see the light of day, whoever it is. You will be rewarded, you may come with me when I get rid of that – threat – to my reign.” Their master had declared, hissing the word threat as if such a thing was a blasphemy in itself.
And he was, for the months that followed, he’d been shown many a secret the others, lesser, members of their circle hadn’t seen. He learned, and he’d excelled. He thought he had done it, secured himself a position of power.
It came as a huge blow to him. Avery sen., one of the Dark Lord’s earliest followers, had been given the task to keep track on who managed, by sheer dumb luck or any other reason, to defy the Dark Lord, and on the children that were born to wizard families.
They’d gone out on another raid; the Dark Lord had wanted to “go out and play a little”, as Severus liked to call it.
In the midst of it all, the Order had shown up, ensuing in an intense battle. Red hair had caught his attention, and apparently his master’s too. Abandoning his watching post, he’d joined the fray, going for the red-head. Severus hadn’t known what to do, this wasn’t supposed to happen.
As the Dark Lord rounded on Lily, another figure showed up on her side, eyes ablaze and fighting for both their lives like a wounded lion.
“Give it up, Potter,” Voldemort’s voice had cut the air. “Leave the Mudblood and join me, you’ll be an asset to me.”
“Over my dead body,” Potter had had answered through clenched teeth.
Alerted by Voldemort’s voice, Potter’s friends had joined them, giving both Lily and Potter new determination, fuelling their fight.
The Dark Lord had to concede defeat, briefly inclining his head before he disappeared with the words, “Until we meet again, then.”
Severus had followed his master’s example immediately after making sure Lily was still standing. It pained him, both that she was bleeding from a cut on her arm, but more so to see her immediately seeking comfort in Potter’s arms.
Upon his arrival in their lair, the Dark Lord had been standing, oblivious to the Death Eaters around him nursing their own wounds, straightening his robes.
“Avery, be so kind and tell me how often this would make the count Potter and his wife got away from me.”
“Three, my Lord,” Avery’s voice proclaimed.
Severus’ whole world had frozen up in that moment. It didn’t need to be spelled out for him, the uplifting of Voldemort’s lips told him enough.
Lily. He’d managed to calm the Dark Lord before, that one of the criteria didn’t mean Lily’s child was the prophesised child, the Longbottoms had stood up to him more often.
But not now. He watched in horror as Voldemort clapped his hands together, giving out the new target, blood rushing through his head and making it impossible for him to hear anything. He didn’t need to.
When he had regained control over his limbs again, he’d requested an audience with the Dark Lord, asking for Lily’s life. Severus had looked at the creature before him as if he hadn’t seen him before upon receiving his answer. “Prove to me that you are loyal. Prove to me that our cause is more important to you than a Mudblood and her offspring.”
It was all his fault. He’d meant to secure his position, use his gained influence to safe his Lily, surely as the right-hand man he’d be given that favour. Revealing that prophecy was meant to make him, not break him. He needed to get gain influence to be able to protect Lily. He didn’t care about the prat, he didn’t care about Potter.
The Dark Lord had singled their son out, he wouldn’t allow the parents to live, especially as they were known as blood-traitors and Mudbloods, and had defied the Dark Lord one too many times.
He had failed, the Dark Lord would not be stopped now. He had failed. And, as he realised, Potter had saved her today, while he had watched from the sidelines, unable to move in his terror. He’d let her down, once again.
Unconsciously, he banged his head against the wall he was sitting against, his frantic thoughts looking for something, anything, to make sense, a way out of this mess. He couldn’t help her anymore, this was out of his hands. Maybe he would have to tell the prophecy one more time, to someone far more powerful than himself.
Written for MajiKat's "Sympathy for the Devil Challenge". I hope I did the character justice. Feedback would be very much appreciated!
And of course, nothing you recognise is my own.
Prophecy from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Ch 37