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Chapter 1 : Always
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"Lily." His voice strained from lack of use as he fell to his knees. "I'm sorry." He whispered softly as he took handfuls of snow and let the cold extract his sadness in his now freezing hands. His curtain of dark hair hung over his eyes as tears began to fall.
The memories of their childhood flooded his mind as the snow stung his legs. All the times they would spend by the lake, climbing trees, talking of Hogwarts and even the way that Lily said his name. It was as fresh in his mind as it had been the day they occurred, but then another memory came to mind. One that had threatened their friendship. James. Just as his anger and frustration were getting the better of him another memory filled his mind. The one memory laced with that fatal word and that he wished throughout all time he could take back. The one word echoed around in his mind and tore at his soul. 'MUDBLOOD'.
His eyes shot open and he frantically looked around in the darkness and falling snow. Once he was able to reassure himself that he was alone, a haunting feeling invaded him. The sound of an owl hooting in the distance added to his skittishness. He tried to refocus. Seeing where Lily's body now lay, didn't make it any easier for him than it did that night when he found her cast aside in her son's nursery. Dead. And as he kneeled there in the snow, while his grief overcame him in sobs, he didn't hear the faint pop behind him.
After letting his emotions surface, he knew he had to strengthen his resolve. He needed to do something that would still connect himself to her in any nature. He owed it to her. That is when he remembered that he had also promised Dumbledore his allegiance as well.
"Good evening Severus," A soft male voice came from behind him.
Severus stood quickly and the pale color that was left in his face had now drained even more. "Du-Dumbledore. What are you doing here?"
"I should ask you the same question." He said pointedly, but with mild curiosity. "You see, in times like these, I find it best to examine all of the possibilities don't you Severus?"
"What do you mean?" Severus met his eyes trying to understand and see where the conversation was going.
"Well," Dumbledore began, "You promised me that you would do anything for Lily correct?"
"The only way to destroy what destroyed them, her, would be to protect her son." He finished.
"You mean," Severus began, "that the only way to destroy the most powerful wizard in the world is a one year old boy?" He scoffed looking at Dumbledore imploringly.
"It's true." Dumbledore informed him. "Harry is the link, but in him being so that means he will need the best protection that we can provide. He'll attend Hogwarts when the time comes, but I need someone who can watch over him while he is there. To protect him."
"Well that shouldn't be difficult for all of the teachers you have at the school, but what does that have to do with me?" He asked as his eyebrow arched in question.
"Ah, but you see there is a flaw in my plan." Dumbledore responded knowingly. "We have an open position since Professor Slughorn is retiring."
Severus looked at the aged man with some difficulty. If he made the choice to accept Dumbledore's offer, he would have a home, a job. "What about the Dark Lord?" he asked with some concern.
"Voldemort," Dumbeldore began as Severus flinched, "Will still be able to return I'm afraid. The only thing that we can do now is wait. Buy us some time as the muggles would say."
Severus thought about it for a few moments. He looked down at the gravestone and mouthed. "The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death." That was when he realized that death had not taken his precious Lily, she was just part of another journey. This thought had given him hope. Something he had not felt at any other point in his life since Lily was alive.
"I'll do it." He declared to Dumbledore and not taking his dark eyes off of the name Lily. "For her, but you must promise me that no one will ever find out."
"My word, Severus, that I shall never reveal the best of you? Dumbledore sighed. "If you insist... Come by my office tomorrow evening and we shall work out all the details of your return."
Severus nodded and watched as Dumbledore walked away towards the kissing gate. Turning one last time to look at Severus, he noticed a tear running down his cheek. In the distance he heard the familiar pop of him disapperating away.
Severus knelt back down and traced a heart in the snow where he knew Lily's body lay not even decayed, but peaceful. He was going to stand and walk away, but another thought had occurred to him. Inside the heart, he traced a single word. After he finished, he stood up and brushed himself off. He looked back down one last time trying to soak up the image of the word before he left. 'ALWAYS'.
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