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He truly did have his mother’s eyes, the eyes of my former best friend. . .  Lily Evans. . . Agony stabbed my heart; I felt the pricking of fresh tears in my eyes. Lily, I’m so sorry. . . I failed you. . .

While picturing Lily’s face, I strayed to the day I’d made the fateful decision. . .

It had been my nineteenth birthday.

"What am I doing?" I thought to myself as I slowly trudged up the dirt path, trying not to stumble over anything in the murky darkness. Ahead of me, a large manor rose above the thick trees and seemed to fuse with the dark clouds looming in the sky. The only sounds were the rustling of dry leaves and the scrape of my boots on the damp gravel. "I know what I'm doing. I'm protecting the wizarding world. I'm doing what's right."

I'd been arguing with myself for over a week, ever since I'd decided to pledge myself to Voldemort. I'd been having trouble completely convincing myself to take such a drastic step, but hearing about Lily's engagement to James Potter had pushed me over the edge. There should have been no question in my mind. Only there was, at least a little bit.

But, I knew there was no way to change my mind now. Voldemort knew I was coming and changing my mind wouldn't be accepted.

Lucius Malfoy and Evan Rosier flanked me as we walked. I tried to focus on the bite of the cold air cutting through my coat instead of on my companions; I was doing well until I heard Rosier speak in my left ear, “You’re doing the right thing, Severus. The Dark Lord’ll take care of the mudbloods—”

I reacted as though I'd been electrocuted, my spine went rigid and I clenched my fists; I whirled, skewering Rosier with a venomous glare. “Never. Say. That. Word. Around. Me,” I growled.  My right hand grabbed for my wand. That word, that single terrible word, had ruined my friendship with the only woman I ever loved . . . it had come from my mouth in a second of anger and though I wanted to take it back I couldn’t; she refused to forgive me. “Sectumsem—”

“Severus!!!” Lucius stepped between us quickly before I could finish the spell. “He’s been under a lot of stress lately.”

I’ll ‘stress’ him, I thought furiously, struggling to keep my emotions under control. I’ll ‘stress’ his throat open if he ever says it again, I swear I will.

“I’m just giving you this one warning, Rosier. If I hear it again, I will curse you.”

“Evan, give him a break.”

I narrowed my eyes.  I’d like to give him a break, an arm, a leg . . . his nose. . . 

"Sev, this isn't necessary."

His ribs. . . . I thought. Turning my back on my two companions, I increased my pace to a jog. A low tree branch cut me off at the chest and sent me flat on the ground with a painful jolt. I swore aloud. "What the hell is necessary?"

“Are you all right?!"

"Just stunned. Just my luck I ran into a. . ."  I looked up . . . the branch that had knocked me flat was gone. "Tree branch. I could swear I ran into a tree branch.”

“The wards.”

A faint hissing was heard. As my companions watched, a large python slithered out of a hole in the tree and coiled around my left leg. 

"Severus!"

I looked calmly at the snake, not moving, unafraid. If I didn't move, it wouldn't attack. 

A moment passed with it looking into my eyes before it released my leg and vanished into the shadows. “Follow her,” Lucius whispered in my ear.

I took a deliberate breath, tensed my diaphragm and concentrated on exhaling in an even, controlled stream.

“When you first see the Dark Lord, don't speak unless he speaks to you first. Then make your answer as short as possible. Use as many honorifics as you can get in, but be careful not to overdo it.”

Easy enough advice to follow, I thought. It was a clearing, the air was still chill although the rain appeared to have ceased. In fact, the ground I had crawled over had been cold, hard and slightly damp. I moved my head as if I was easing a stiff neck, and tried to sneak a look over the treetops at the sky; it was clear and my brief glance showed a familiar pattern of stars. We were probably still in England, possibly towards the South. The air had a crisp woody odour to it and a shiver raced through me that wasn’t just from the air.

“When you see him, go to your knees.” Lucius looked to me. “Let him be the one to speak first. Don’t look into his eyes until he addresses you and asks you specifically to look up.”

As the loud crack of my Apparition resounded throughout the silent graveyard, the gathered Death Eaters turned to look at me. For a moment, I was struck by the visceral terror in the atmosphere. I walked forward determinedly, and my comrades parted for me slowly. As my path cleared, I saw the Dark Lord for the first time. Cold red eyes glared at me contemptuously – eyes capable of expressing neither mercy nor pity. Staggered by the palpable aura of power projected by the dark wizard, I stopped in my tracks, momentarily unable to continue my approach. After a few seconds, when Vol . . . . when he made no move to speak, I willed myself into motion again.

When I came within approximately 10 feet of the Dark Lord, I halted again. Overwhelmed with emotion and overawed by his presence, I fell roughly to my knees, lowering my head. Though I carefully concealed the specific contents of my thoughts, I made no appreciable attempt to repress my emotions – there was no need. As long as the Dark Lord could not discern the details and implications of my sentiments, they were of no detriment to him. The flood of emotions which raced through me at that moment was expected: Fear, excitement, awe, avidity. The absence of such feelings would be considered unusual at best and suspicious at worst. I bowed my head in a genuine show of deference, and the manifest reverence with which I regarded him was far from contrived. 

Author: WildloughRhulain/PinionedFalcon on Storywrite Edit

Anti-litigation Charms Edit

This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros. Inc. (except original characters and the plot) No copyright or trademark infringement is intended; I'm only borrowing the characters and doing this for fun. No need to sue me then, I make no money, so no money owed. The present disclaimer charm applies to all subsequent chapters; I won't repeat them.

2: I don't own the poem "Invictus," it's property of the late William Ernest Henley.

Prologue- To Be Or Not To Be? Edit

Out of the night that covers me,  Black as the Pit from pole to pole,  I thank whatever gods may be  For my unconquerable soul. 

In the fell clutch of circumstance  I have not winced nor cried aloud.  Under the bludgeonings of chance  My head is bloody, but unbowed. 

Beyond this place of wrath and tears  Looms but the Horror of the shade,  And yet the menace of the years  Finds, and shall find, me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gate,  How charged with punishments the scroll,  I am the master of my fate:  I am the captain of my soul.--

Invictus, William Ernest Henley.


Among leaps from rooftop to rooftop, I ducked my head against the onslaught of wind-driven rain and clenched my ebony-and-phoenix-feather wand in a death grip. The water sheeting down over the rows of dilapidated brick houses did nothing to help the situation. 

Chain lightning sliced the night, betraying my position.

“We’ve got him!” Bellatrix Lestrange screamed from my left side as everything went dark again. “*Avada Kedavra!*”

I threw myself off to my right in a mad dash, panting from terror, heart hammering against my ribs. . . . An emerald jet shot past my head, missing by mere inches. 

In the process of dodging again, I lost my footing on the water-slicked tiles, narrowly avoiding a six-story fall over the edge.

"You won't make it through this night alive, Snape! We're finally going to put Dumbledore's lapdog to sleep!"

"*Avada Kedavra!*"


Casting a rapid Impediment Jinx over my shoulder to slow time and gain ground, I blinked rain from my eyes and regained my balance enough to make another jump to the roof ahead.


In mid-leap, a dark thought crossed my mind . . .

'Maybe a fall would be a better death for you than the Killing Curse; maybe you should just let yourself drop and end it now. . .'

As despair closed in, another thought struck me with the force of a lightning bolt: 

'You may not die instantly. Instead, you could be left lying on the street below in excruciating pain with your back or neck snapped; you either would be facing a slow, lingering death alone, or crippled for life. And what about your Slytherins? Who would protect them?'


My decision was made. I would send my Patronus for help, then, hopefully, try and find a place to hide. Sending the message would likely betray my position, but if it got through, Albus Dumbledore and the Order of the Phoenix would come to the rescue.

How did I get in this situation, you may ask? It began with an ordinary morning at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. . . .

Chapter One: Memory and Desire Edit

Sometimes I wondered why I was wasting my time with the students here, trying to mold decent human beings out of empty shells. As far as I could see, it was an unwinnable battle.

Then why did you agree to become a professor? A small voice echoed in my head.

I gritted my teeth, feeling the onset of a headache. I’d agreed because Albus Dumbledore had asked me to, and I would have hurled myself in front of a Killing Curse for the old man. After everything he had done for me, I simply could not refuse. It wasn't all bad; I was able to make potions for a living and earn a comfortable salary in the process. Had I tried to strike out on my own, a reformed Death Eater setting up a shop from my home, a little flat called Spinner’s End in a suburban area of Manchester, I wouldn't have lasted a month. Angry mobs of vengeful innocents would have shown up in the night to burn both my home to the ground and me at the stake. Not that I wouldn't have deserved it. Therefore, Hogwarts it was, a safe harbor under Dumbledore's beneficent gaze. Moreover, once I had begun my penance as professor and shepherd to the idiot masses, I had discovered something startling: I liked it. I didn’t like the students; I found nothing interesting about any of them or the tedium of marking scream-inducing parchments. What drew me in was the dark thrill of power the position gave me.

Power was the ultimate aphrodisiac; the most addictive drug ever conceived. Nothing brewed in a cauldron could hope to match it. Power was the reason I had joined the Dark Lord in the first place as a bitter young man, and I had found it here in the unlikeliest of places. It was pure power, too. What could be more powerful than holding someone's mind, some would say their very essence, in your hands? Why, you could make them anything you wished. If you were so inclined, you could destroy them. I’d never done so, though I had been sorely tempted. McGonagall might dispute that. She would say that I was well on my way to crushing Neville Longbottom. It wasn't true, of course. It was hardly my fault that the boy had the mental fortitude of a shucked oyster. He was weak because he chose to be, and I wasn't about to change my demeanor to accommodate him.

If Dumbledore ever became aware of my musings on this particular subject, he would doubtless be dimly alarmed. ‘A lover of the Light shouldn’t hold such notions. Those on the side of Good and Right should never crave power, and if they hold it, they should never enjoy it.’

Power was neutral; the people corrupted it.

Take Dumbledore, for example. He had been Headmaster of our school for nearly thirty years. Yet he seemed in no particular hurry to surrender the position to McGonagall or anyone else. In spite of all the problems inherent to the title, he was quite comfortable in it. Indeed, he had wasted little time in trying to regain it when Lucius Malfoy had succeeded in getting him suspended for a time. He claimed— and I believed him; Dumbledore was too good a man to be disbelieved—that he had been in such a hurry to retake his place at the apex of the Hogwarts hierarchy solely out of concern for the Muggleborns, but I had seen something other than worry for others in those sparkling blue eyes. No matter what Dumbledore said, he enjoyed his coveted status as Headmaster of Hogwarts and the prestige such power awarded. Whether he chose to admit it or not, the lust for power had infected him, too.

Speaking of corrupted. . .  The Dark Lord was the most corrupted of them all.  I’d never been involved in his Dark Revels, though I’d witnessed them as part of my job as a spy for the Light. . . I shuddered and lowered my head as tears came to my eyes.  Just remembering what happened during such Revels was enough to make me physically ill.  So many times I'd wanted to take the victim's place and spare them the torture . . . .  My life for theirs. What good’s my life? I'd failed . . . . I wept silently. It would be so easy . . . just two words would solve everyone’s problem. . . I mouthed them silently: Avada Kedavra.

But another vow . . . another vow kept me living . . . . . a vow I'd made a long, long time ago . . . . A vow to the woman I still loved.

I looked up as the fifth and sixth year students filed in.

"I still remember the time Professor Snape beat Goldilocks Lunkhead," I heard George Weasley laugh.

"He deserved that. He was a no-talent hack," Fred laughed.

A pair of green eyes met mine and lingered for a second. Seeing those eyes, the same eyes of the woman I loved . . . caused a brief lump to form in my throat. A fresh wave of tears threatened, making me deliberately crack my lids and blink to keep them from falling.

"Last I heard he was in Saint Mungo's," the owner of those eyes spoke up. "I can't feel sorry for him though, he brought it on himself."

Malfoy spoke up from one of the Slytherin tables. "I agree with Potter, he got a dose of his own potion."

"I got an owl from there a week ago," I spoke up. "They managed to find out how to reverse the memory charm, but he's told them he doesn't want his old life back."

"I wouldn't want my old life either if I was a thief and a no-talent hack.” Potter grinned.

"He tried to curse you and Ron, Harry," Ginny Weasley spoke up. "He stole other wizards' memories and experiences and profited off of them. . ."

"I believe I speak for us all when I say two words: Good riddance."

I nodded emphatically. "Thank you, Miss Granger. I know another two words that fit him. . . "

"Buggering git?" I heard Ginny speak up.

The corners of my mouth quirked up in a very slight yet noticeable smile, I actually chuckled. “Yes, Miss Weasley.”

Every eye turned to me.

“We need to start with everyone calming down." I cut in. “That’s the first rule in my class. . . If you aren’t calm, your hands can start shaking and you can miss steps because your thoughts can run away with you. If this is the case, you're stressing yourself out.”

The silence in the room was broken by a loud clatter as three athames fell to the floor.

I winced, sighing. "Okay, remember, clean your blades thoroughly before you use them, if there's dirt on the floor it could have a rather explosive reaction if mixed with this potion. I've been on the wrong end of this potion twice and I don't want it to happen to any of you. And the first person that fires a hex in here will also be the last!” My voice was rising. “There's a REASON I say no wand waving in my class; any curses interacting with potions at the same time will have strange reactions;  this particular potion will react violently to dirt and curses: we'll have a liquid version of Fiendfyre on our hands and I DO NOT WANT THAT LOOSE IN THE SCHOOL!"

The three students in question, Pansy Parkinson, George Weasley and Vincent Crabbe, nodded silently, stood and headed to the water basin in the back of the classroom.

I saw Fred Weasley’s eyes light up. “That could also make it a good weapon, couldn’t it, sir? Aim a curse at the potion and. . . .”

I snapped my fingers. “Exactly.” Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed Longbottom jumping and wincing. I winced as well, berating myself. The poor boy’s already scared of you, and you make it worse? IDIOT!

Squeezing my eyes shut and gritting my teeth, I forced myself to calm down. I saw him meet my eyes and an apologetic expression passed over my face. By the expression I got in response, he’d seen it and understood. “I’m sorry, Longbottom. I was yelling because I’ve seen that incident happen before, firsthand. It was in my second year; I was trapped in a classroom with it.” I heard shocked gasps echo around the room and continued. “Thankfully, Professor Slughorn knew what he was doing and was able to evacuate everyone. I made sure he got everyone else out; I stayed behind trying to hold the flames back while he got the other students out. I stayed because someone I loved was trapped. If it meant my life I’d gladly have given it for her. I fought my way through the flames to her and gave her a Portkey so she could escape.” A sloshing sizzle tore me from my musings. Whirling, I saw that a careless student had knocked over a boiling cauldron, sending the scalding contents across the stone floor. Luckily, no one had been within splashing distance. The culprit was now standing white-faced over the mess. Longbottom. Again.

"I'm sorry, Pro—," the Gryffindor stammered. I silently counted down, drawing my wand as I took three long, swift strides forward, grabbed him and pulled him back. Five, four, three, two. . . .

A towering line of flames and an acrid smell of smoldering lavender came from the spilled potion, causing horrified looks, but I was ready. "Evanesco!" I didn't bother to turn my back on the mess; I kept my eyes locked on it. "Those flames and that lavender scent are the only signs you get when this potion comes into contact with dirt. You have a five-second gap in which to act afterward. The next. . ." I didn't finish my sentence; I let it trail off, garnering horrified expressions.

Fiendfyre, Ginny Weasley mouthed. She shuddered.

"Carelessness in this class can be fatal." The headache, which had retreated during my musings, reappeared with a vengeance. This was going to be a Very. Long. Day. What else can possibly go wrong? I sighed heavily. It could be worse. Be grateful that Longbottom has no younger siblings. If that news ever found its way to my ears, I would promptly jump to my death from the Astronomy Tower. Even my iron constitution couldn’t endure some tortures.

When I saw that the repentant student was making no move to clean up the mess, I set my teeth. Remember, Severus, this is your penance. What a terrible penance it was. Swallowing the knot of anger in my throat, I calmly deducted sixty points. "Clean it up," I said simply, and sought the temporary refuge of my desk.

As I sat, I took a moment to assess the tension level in the room. It was discouragingly low, even after the spill. I think it’s time for a little extra pressure. Reaching for a particular drawer in my desk, I opened it with a harsh grating sound. From within I retrieved an especially wicked-looking dagger and a whetstone. "Ten minutes remaining," I called out, causing most of the class to look up with that wide-eyed look that so eloquently said, 'What? Already?' and removes all traces of thought from their minds. Some remained looking away from their tests as I removed the sheath and began to hone the long, double-edged blade. Now some would see this as cruel and unusual behavior, but for me it was a simple teaching tool.

Okay, a complex teaching tool, I stand corrected. I'd picked up the trick while teaching the Weasley twins in their fifth year. Once the students adjusted themselves to the presence of an apparently homicidal maniac supervising them, the exams themselves became remarkably easier. Some students, Slytherins, for the most part, had even come back and thanked me for it. Of course, Fred and George Weasley had thanked me too - by replacing my dagger with the type of knife more often found in Muggle picnic sets. What had been surprising was that no news of my behavior reached the years below, so that it achieved the same result each year since.

My gaze turned to Potter and lingered there for a moment. He truly did have his mother’s eyes, the eyes of my former best friend. . .  Lily Evans. . . Pain stabbed my heart and I felt the pricking of fresh tears in my eyes as I thought her name.

While picturing Lily’s face, I strayed to the day I’d made the fateful decision. . .

It had been my nineteenth birthday.

"What am I doing?" I thought to myself as I slowly trudged up the dirt path, trying not to stumble over anything in the murky darkness. Ahead of me, a large manor rose above the thick trees and seemed to fuse with the dark clouds looming in the sky. The only sounds were the rustling of dry leaves and the scrape of my boots on the damp gravel. "I know what I'm doing. I'm protecting the wizarding world. I'm doing what's right."

I'd been arguing with myself for over a week, ever since I'd decided to pledge myself to Voldemort. I'd been having trouble completely convincing myself to take such a drastic step, but hearing about Lily's engagement to James Potter had pushed me over the edge. There should have been no question in my mind. Only there was, at least a little bit.

But, I knew there was no way to change my mind now. Voldemort knew I was coming and changing my mind wouldn't be accepted.

Lucius Malfoy and Evan Rosier flanked me as we walked. I tried to focus on the bite of the cold air cutting through my coat instead of on my companions; I was doing well until I heard Rosier speak in my left ear, “You’re doing the right thing, Severus. The Dark Lord’ll take care of the mudbloods—”

I reacted as though I'd been electrocuted, my spine went rigid and I clenched my fists; I whirled, skewering Rosier with a venomous glare. “Never. Say. That. Word. Around. Me,” I growled.  My right hand grabbed for my wand. That word, that single terrible word, had ruined my friendship with the only woman I ever loved . . . it had come from my mouth in a second of anger and though I wanted to take it back I couldn’t; she refused to forgive me. “Sectumsemp—”

“Severus!!!” Lucius stepped between us quickly before I could finish the spell. “He’s been under a lot of stress lately, Evan."

“I’m just giving you this one warning, Rosier. If I hear it again, I will curse you.”

Rosier’s eyes were wide. He started to open his mouth but caught the look in my eyes and closed it again. 

“Evan, give him a break.”

I narrowed my eyes.  I’d like to give him a break, an arm, a leg . . . his nose. . . His ribs. . . . I thought. Turning my back on my two companions, I increased my pace to a jog. A low tree branch cut me off at the chest and sent me flat on the ground with a painful jolt. I swore aloud. "What the hell is necessary?"

"Sev! Are you all right?!"

"Just stunned. Just my luck I ran into a. . ."  

I looked up . . . the branch that had knocked me flat was gone. "Tree branch. I could swear I ran into a tree branch.”

A faint hissing was heard. As my companions watched, a large python slithered out of a hole in the tree and coiled around my left leg. 

"Severus!"

I looked calmly at the snake, not moving, unafraid. If I didn't move, it wouldn't attack. 

Lucius Malfoy and Evan Rosier flanked me as we stepped across the threshold of Riddle Manor. Part of me wanted to run, but I knew if I made the wrong move, I'd be killed. . .

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