A flash of lightning marked the loud rumble of thunder that rolled through the quiet house. The jagged outline of the bolt of electricity could be seen out the thin, green curtains hanging in a small window. With another loud clap of thunder and flash of light, heavy rain began to fall, making the little bit of visible glass opaque.
Severus Snape sat in a large chintz arm chair, gazing out the window into the stormy night. He watched as the rain splashed off the dirty bricks of the surrounding houses and formed a muddy puddle in the middle of the cobble stoned street.
Tonight was the last night before he would have to return to his post as Hogwarts’ Potions Master, the last night before he would have to face the one thing he had tried to avoid and ignore for ten long years – Severus Snape would meet Harry Potter tomorrow.
The tall man heaved a heavy sigh as he swirled the contents of his tumbler disinterestedly. He was far too lost in thought to care for his drink at the moment. Severus could not deny that he was curious, very curious. The rumors, the lies, the tales – he wanted to see if any of it held any sort of truth. He was feeling a mixture of emotions at the moment as he reminded himself again that the boy could have died due to his own actions. Severus was not admitting pity or any form of sympathy for the boy; he was only wallowing in the self-pooling guilt he had racked up over the many years. Though he was not selfish enough to take the blame entirely regarding the boy’s tragic accident, he did blame the death of the boy’s parents fully on himself, particularly his mother.
The amount of guilt and stress Severus carried around was not healthy for a thirty-one year old man. He wasn’t exactly a teenager, but he was still young. He still had a long life ahead of him – he hoped. He had not known the consequences of his actions would be so very personal.
Severus had been a foolish, extremely impressionable youth, sucked into the lies and deceit of the power of a new Uprising. He’d not been the only one, no, but he had placed himself in high regard to their leader, their Lord, at a very young age. Delivering that one, fateful sentence to his Master had cost him his entire life. With that one mistake, he had damned the lives of not only himself, but numerous other people. It ultimately ended in bloodshed and the orphaning of an innocent child. Severus may have thought that the Dark Lord’s beliefs and ideals were right, but he was not prepared for the price Tom Riddle was willing to pay to put his ideas into affect. Attempting to kill an innocent child to gain power? How cruel, how barbaric! And it was Severus’ fault that the Dark Lord had any knowledge of the Prophecy and went after the boy in the first place. Severus was to blame. He’d contributed to the murder of two classmates, and the attempted murder of a one year old child…Surmise it to say he did not believe in the Dark Lord’s ideas any more.
Severus fingered the small charm dangling off a usually hidden silver bracelet. He always wore it, yes, but he never let anyone else see it. It was old and dented, the fake silver chipped and worn in many placed around the links and on the round charm. The letters ‘L.E.’ were engraved on the small charm in elaborate script and were faded into the dull metal. Nearly seventeen years, that was how long ago this bracelet was given to him. Ten years, that’s how long ago he had retrieved the matching bracelet with the letters ‘S.S.’ engraved on the charm from the smoldering wreckage of what was once a cozy little cottage in the quiet wizarding village of Godric’s Hallow. He’d risked great punishment by entering the house after the deaths of James and Lily Potter, but he couldn’t just leave the bracelet there. It should be with Lily, but alas, she was long gone now…
A strong urge to go visit the quaint grave of his long past best friend stole him and nagged at his nerves until he stood up and grabbed his cloak off of his coat rack. Severus clasped the silver snake button around his neck and headed out the front door of his small, dingy house. With a quick turn he was being pulled through that tight, breath-taking tube into Apparation. With a soft thud, Severus’ feet hit soft, slightly damp grass in front of a rickety old gate that read ‘Godric’s Hallow Cemetery’. His heart pounded in his chest as he raised the hood of his cloak up to guard his face and he pushed the small gate open. He began to walk through the many old and mostly forgotten tomb stones.
A single white lily, enchanted to live forevermore, lay across the unkept grass and dirt in front of a large granite head stone. As Severus kneeled in front of the left side of the stone, he pulled his hood down so that he could see properly.
‘Lily Marie Evans Potter James Harold Ignotus Potter’
January 30, 1960 - October 31, 1981 March 27, 1960 – October 31, 1981
The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed Is Death…
Severus traced his finger along the carvings of Lily’s name, then traced the saying carved underneath. He never truly did understand that saying, or why exactly it was on the Potters’ head stone. It sounded very much like something his past Lord would have said and not something James Potter would allow near his grave, not that he really had the choice. In fact, Severus was almost certain that it had been Albus Dumbledore who had picked the quote to be placed on the Potters’ grave.
“‘The Last Enemy That Shall Be Destroyed Is Death…’ Fitting, don’t you think, Severus?”
Severus nearly toppled over as the voice sounded from the shadow of a large tree just to the left of him. He stood up quickly, his wand drawn as he pointed it towards the source of the voice. Only when he saw the form of Albus Dumbledore appearing from the shadows did he lower his wand.
“Albus, what are you doing here?” Severus snapped as he tucked his wand away, thoroughly annoyed that he had let himself become vulnerable enough to be frightened by the kindly old wizard.
Albus raised an eyebrow as he drew closer to his old pupil. “I was under the impression that I would be alone in my visit – my mistake. I noticed you were tracing the quote…” The statement was left hanging.
“I just wanted to leave something of Lily’s…I don’t want it anymore and she should have it.” Severus pulled his wand once more and muttered under his breath as he charmed a small, not too deep hole right beside the head stone on Lily’s side. He pulled the silver bracelet from his cloak pocket and dropped it into the small hole, then used his wand to cover it back up with the freshly dug dirt, making sure the land didn’t look disturbed at all.
Albus looked slightly bemused, but he had a feeling he knew exactly which bracelet had been dropped into the earth beside Lily Potter’s grave. “I think she would have liked that, Severus…”
“Nobody knows what she would have liked…She’s gone now…Well, I must be going,” Severus said, trying to make himself sound more care-free than he felt. His heart actually felt like it was made of lead, and it was keeping him from moving his feet. With a deep breath, he began to move away from the grave.
Severus turned back towards the tall, elderly wizard who had taken him under his wing so many years ago and inclined his head in question.
“Do watch over him…Remember who he is, and who died for him. Protect him,” Albus pleaded as he looked straight into the black, fathomless eyes that held so much emotion, yet hid it all too well.
Severus nodded curtly after a few seconds of shocked realization that Albus was pleading with him to protect Lily’s – and James’ – son. It was the least he could do, really, but he truly had no idea what he was getting himself into. “I…I will.”
“Will you swear to it, Severus? Would you make the Unbreakable Vow, right here, in front of the Potters’ graves?” Albus asked quietly as he fixed the black haired man with one of his piercing blue stares.
Severus cowed slightly under Albus’ gaze. He didn’t know the boy, and had not exactly been friendly with the boy’s father, but Harry Potter’s mother…Lily Evans Potter had been one of Severus’ only friends during his turbulent Hogwarts years. Despite his feelings towards her kind back then, she had still befriended him and helped in more ways than he cared to recount. That’s all the prompting he needed to make his decision. “Yes, I would make the Unbreakable Vow. I owe them so much for what I did, it’s the very least I can do…”
Albus’ expression turned much warmer as he stepped closer to Severus, his long, garish robes dragging across the brittle grass below his feet. “You need to stop blaming yourself, Severus. I’m not excusing your horrible lack of judgment, but the blood of Lily and James Potter is not on your hands. You had no way of knowing how your Lord would interpret the bit of trivial information you gave him. Were you wrong? Indeed, but you have paid for your mistakes in part, and this last piece is all I asked of you for full redemption in mine eyes. Shall I summon a person to Bond us?” Albus asked, his eye brows rising as his piercing gaze scorched through Severus once more.
Severus nodded slowly, taking a few steps closer to the Headmaster. “Yes, summon a Bonder,” said Severus firmly. If helping protect this boy, Lily’s son, would help Albus trust him more than he already did, then Severus was fully willing to do whatever it took.
Albus pulled his wand and gave it a long twirl, casting a large, silver Phoenix in the dark cemetery. “Go to Lupin. Tell him to come to James’ and Lily’s place of burial,” Albus whispered to the shimmering Phoenix. The bird gave an elegant bow before gliding off through the darkness to do its master’s bidding.
After ten minutes of silence, a faint popping noise was heard as a tall man in a patched up tweed suit Apparated a few feet from Albus and Severus.
“Albus, what is it? Is everything alright?” he asked in a worried, strained voice. Ten long, quiet years had passed without any sort of activity regarding Voldemort or Harry Potter, but on the eve of the boy’s first day of school, Albus is summoning people to the Potter’s grave? Something was amiss.
Albus smiled warmly at the werewolf and nodded. “Everything is fine, Remus. Not to worry, my boy. I would like to ask you a favour. Severus has agreed to take the Unbreakable Vow and we are in need of a Bonder. Can you assist, taking an Oath to speak of it to no one, never?” Albus questioned quickly.
Remus looked slightly bemused as he eyes shot towards Severus for a few seconds. He looked back to Albus and nodded slowly. “I solemnly swear to an Oath of Silence from hence forth regarding this Vow,” Remus recited the traditional Oath words, holding his wand out, handle first.
Albus silently touched the tip of his wand to the handle of Remus’, a faint glow emitting from the wood for only a few seconds before it was gone. “Good, very good. Now then, on your knees, Severus,” Albus instructed as he slowly got down on his knees as well. Old age slightly hindered the excitement of kneeling to take the Vow, but only by a little. He held out his left hand and waited for Severus to copy.
Severus kneeled in front of Albus and took the elderly wizard’s hand in his own. He inclined his head towards Remus to indicate that they were ready.
Remus moved forward and touched the tip of his wand to Albus’ and Severus’ linked hands, waiting for Albus to initiate the Vow.
“Will you, Severus, watch over the son of James and Lily Potter, Harry, as he attempts to fulfill the fated Prophecy?”
“I will,” said Severus.
A bright flame issued from Remus’ wand and wrapped around the linked hands of Albus and Severus, swirling and causing a red glow to light the cemetery around them.
“And will you do everything in your power to keep him alive?”
A second lick of flame, brighter than the first and weaving like a braid with the swirling flame already in place around the two wizards’ hands, slipped from the point of Remus’ wand.
“And lastly, will you protect Harry with your life, no matter what the circumstances may come to be?” Dumbledore asked, his gaze very intense as he grasped Severus’ hand firmly.
Severus hesitated for only a second, even less than that, before nodding curtly. “I will.”
The third flame was the brightest yet, entwining with the braided flames, then soaking into the skin of Severus’ and Dumbledore’s hands.
Severus stood up, holding out a hand to help the Headmaster up off of the dry grass of the cemetery ground. “I would like to ask you a favour, however, Albus. Harry must never know of this Vow. I will protect the boy, yes, but I will not let him get attached to me or vice versa, is that understood?”
Dumbledore frowned as he wiped the dirt from his robes. He looked directly into Severus’ black eyes and contemplated for a moment before nodding. “I will not tell Harry about this. However, I hope that the day will come when you can tell him about it yourself. Harry may still have his aunt, uncle, and cousin, but he needs someone there for him in the Wizarding world as well. It would benefit you both. Alas, I will respect your wishes and keep your act of kindness secret from the boy. Thank you, Severus,” the old man said with a warm smile.
Severus didn’t respond to that. The only thing he could do was reiterate what he had said before, but he knew Dumbledore would stay true to his word. He nodded his head to show he understood and walked a short distance before turning on the spot and Apparating back to his childhood home on Spinner’s End.