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Chapter 4 : Snape
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-Frank Herbert, Litany against Fear
Cold autumn air whipped around the death eater as he approached his rendezvous point. His assignment was to truthfully lie about his news on the Order and wheedle what he could about the Dark Lord’s activity. Today Snape was to meet Rabastan Lestrange to exchange information. This Lestrange was less of a threat than the other two who were both more vicious and better legilimens. The meeting was to be at a neutral location – the apothecary in Diagon Alley. Many death eater meetings took place in the public’s eye. No one looked twice at anyone these days, let alone two blokes conversing over potions ingredients.
Snape entered the odorous shop and made brief eye contact with the shop owner. He had frequented this store long enough for the proprietor to know he liked solace while browsing and would ask for assistance if necessary. When the bell at the door tinkled to announce a new customer, Snape did not look around. Sickles to galleons said it was Lestrange. The quickly squelched, “Good afterno-“ from the pudgy man behind the counter confirmed Snape’s suspicion.
Soon Snape heard a quiet, “Stocking up?” Rabastan examining a vial of rose oil next to Snape. “You have news, I take it?” Rabastan muttered quietly.
“Only that the werewolf Lupin has been cast out by his friends,” Snape said relishing the truth behind his words. “He may be a good candidate to recruit as a spy.” The last part was far from the truth but the lie tasted sweet in his mouth.
Rabastan looked quite unimpressed by this information. “Is that all?” he asked barely concealing his disappointment with the information. “Let’s walk outside,” Rabastan suggested with a move toward the door.
Placing his items on the shelf where they had been talking, Severus followed Lestrange outside and into a small alley next to the apothecary. Catching up to the tall dark-haired man, Snape grabbed the arm of his robes. “Do you think Dumbledore and I are bosom buddies?” Snape asked in a sharp whisper. “I’ve barely managed a place in his staff and am kept away from information of interest. You can’t expect him to tell me where to find the Potters and Longbottoms over parsnip and gravy, can you?”
The smile that played across Rabastan’s face was devious in nature and caused Snape to feel slightly uncomfortable. What didn’t he know? “I don’t think they will be a problem any longer.”
Keep the mask on, Snape reminded himself. Don’t show emotion. “The Dark Lord has found them?” Snape asked with cool indifference.
Shrugging Rabastan said, “I only heard they wouldn’t be a problem anymore. There was a worm in their midst” A few moments of silence that had passed before he continued, “I heard it might even be tonight.”
Keeping an indifferent look on his face, Snape raised his eyebrows as if to show the impertinence of the information being shared. “The Dark Lord will be one more step towards total control,” Severus said forcing a pleased look on his face.
“Indeed, he will be,” Lestrange said with an incline of his head. “If that is all you have to offer, I will return to my day.”
Waiting a moment for Lestrange’s footsteps to fade away, Snape leaned against the wall as his mind began to race. Who was they? The Longbottoms? No, Dumbledore was their secret keeper. It had to be the Potters. What was he to do? Run and tell Dumbledore that the lying, cheating, no-good Black turned his best friend in? For a person who was ensconced in both sides of the wizarding war, Snape felt in the dark about information that mattered to him.
It was too risky to run to Dumbledore with this news – the other death eaters would be monitoring Snape for any overt reaction to news given. The best Snape could do was send Dumbledore a message and trust that he wouldn’t react in a way that would cost Snape his life unnecessarily.
Trust. That ridiculous request Dumbledore made of him. Reliance on Dumbledore made Severus weak. But it had been a moment of the utmost weakness that caused him to turn to his former headmaster for help. He had to save her. The only woman, the only person, truly trusted. Lily.
Back at his humble home, Snape threw books from their shelves and let out a short yell of frustration. Only in the solitude of Spinner’s End could Severus express the emotion he continuously fought. A phoenix cry let him know that Dumbledore’s reply had been delivered. It simply said there was no other evidence of danger for the Potters or Longbottoms. Snape sank into the lonely couch in his sitting room. The undertone of Dumbledore’s message was clear – stay put, do not interfere. Severus did not know where Lily was hidden. He had guesses of course – Godric’s Hollow was at the top of likely locations for the Potters to hide. That is where the spoiled James had been raised. Without realizing it, his head was buried in his hands as he tried to decide what to do.
Was Rabastan telling the truth? Was the Dark Lord making a move against the Potters tonight? Standing up feeling frustration and powerlessness, Snape paced the small room. “Dammit, Black!” he shouted to the otherwise vacant house. The arrogant man’s one redeemable quality had been his loyalty but even that was rotted out of him. No one had told Snape Black was the secret keeper for Lily. Some facts were obvious to the least astute of observers and Severus was if anything sharp.
Closing his eyes, Snape allowed himself to dwell on the woman whose safety he was fretting at the moment. He had lost the love of the woman with those enchanting green eyes but he could not stand to live in a world where she did not exist. Severus lost her with his obsession with the dark arts and inability to see beyond blood status. The idea of losing her had been enough to turn the Half-Blood Prince into a traitor against his kind.
If this was the night that the Dark Lord was going after the Potter brat there was one small thread of hope. That hope lay in the seed of an idea Severus dropped to his master to spare Lily. A powerful witch like her could be an asset to the Dark Lord and his followers. He had only to convince her to consider his offer. Snape knew it was a longshot, nearly impossible to think Lily would turn. Not after he kills her son. But if she did… that would be Severus’ opening, his chance to show Lily what a good partner he could be. They could be happy.
Snape was nearly immobilized in his house. The overwhelming array of possibilities He had been instructed to stay in but could his heart bear to not know? If this wasn’t the night, what was the harm in strolling through Godric’s Hollow? Snape could easily remain unseen. Deciding that he did fancy a walk through the historic streets of the wizarding community, Snape grabbed his cloak and disapparated.
It was past nightfall and the streets were buzzing slightly. With panic Snape hurried toward the crowd but stopped a ways out. There was a house in ruins. Muggles were crowding in front of the house. Snape cast a disillusionment charm on himself to move closer. Catching words of, “Don’t know that anyone lived there,” from a bloke told Snape that he was looking at what had been Lily’s house. Who had the fidelius charm been cast with? Likely it was James as it had been his treacherous best friend to safeguard their location. All the visible house meant was that James was dead.
Taking the sliver of hope, Snape stumbled past the unseeing muggles, through the neat garden, and into the ajar door. James’ body was in the entryway. Indifferent to his former schoolmate’s death, Severus called softly to the house, “Lily!”
Moments of silence turned into minutes. All Snape could hear was the sound of muggle authorities clearing away the crowd. Snape closed his eyes straining to hear. He was hesitant to move further into the house. What if he saw her dead? Using all the courage he possessed in the moment, Severus took a step up the stairs. He could not see any bedrooms on the first level of the house. Each step pitted him with fear.
Clearing the top of the stairs, Severus felt he had scaled a mountain of terror and loathing. Each step took him closer to either his impossible dream or worst nightmare. “Lily?” Snape called again hoping to have a response. There was a soft cry down the hall but nothing of the sweet voice he desired to hear. If any sound were to draw out his love, it would have been her child’s cry. No coos or calming noises came from the room.
Snape sank to his knees feeling quite unable to move forward. He could not face it – his hope had left the world. Tears began fill Severus’ eyes. What did he have to live for now? The defeated man felt a surge of determination to know, to see…
The sight that met Snape in the child’s room caused a piece of his life to end. She was dead, no more. Severus wanted to be dead too – there was nothing in the world for him if she was not also there. He was lost and felt a fear he hadn’t experienced before. What did a life without Lily mean? Could he face each day knowing that she would never again speak with her kind voice?
Outside Severus heard a mechanical roar and saw a bright light shine in through the window. Black owned that muggle contraption. Snape stood up abruptly wanting to run out and murder the lying treacherous man. He was halfway down the stairs before he paused. Would he look guilty if he and Black were both dead at the scene? It grudged Severus to admit it, but a duel between them would likely end in both their deaths.
In his anger and hatred, Snape decided on the slow revenge. One that would take years perhaps but his slow poison would be detectable in Black’s demise. Instead of a fast death to end his pain, Snape would face a lifetime without another chance to see Lily’s beautiful face or her mesmerizing eyes to exact his revenge on Black. As he heard a cry of “James!” from downstairs, Severus disapparated to his home feeling despair and tragedy.
A/N: Next chapter is Sirius!! This chapter wasn't as action packed as others but I wanted to show Snape's fear of losing Lily and how he faced that despite an overwhelming sense of loss.
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