“Damned Potter,” sneered Severus, storming into his office,
after a very unsatisfying meeting with Dumbledore. More Occlumency lessons for
that sniveling son of a Gryffindor ass would be a supreme waste of his time.
Nevertheless, he was being forced to continue this pointless pursuit.
He had been as clear as possible with the headmaster. Even
if there was a valid reason to provide special protection for Potter, it was
inconceivable that Potter could master these skills to a level that would
actually provide him protection. Dumbledore, for all his ‘so-called’ wisdom,
did not understand the capabilities of Voldemort. It had taken Severus,
himself, years of concentration to perfect the skill of closing his mind to
intrusion and opening the minds of others. He dropped into his chair and
pressed his fingertips to his temples. For a brief moment, he reveled in the
remembered sensation of penetrating an unsuspecting mind. The knowledge he
gained by this surreptitious invasion was not the reward. The reward was the
feeling of total control. A momentary look of rapture crossed his face and he
sighed, and then shook himself back to reality.
Potter would be arriving shortly, although probably late as
usual. Severus realized that his hatred of the boy ran almost as deep as
anything in his psyche ever had. Potter was the re-incarnation of one of the
foulest associations of his life. James Potter had been a spoiled, cocky,
over-confident, overbearing twit. He came to school believing that he was the
center of the universe and along with his gang of thugs, had dominated
However, Severus did not fall into the category of a
follower. After the sorting, in his first year, Severus had looked for any
opportunity to cause damage to James Potter and James had reciprocated
whole-heartedly. They had dueled once during class, in what must have been
their fifth year. The devastation that was
wrought in two minutes time was amazing. Dueling was not tried again for the
next two years, following that debacle. While he and James had not permanently
harmed each other, the walls, the tables, the windows, and several students
standing too close, had suffered from the spells that missed their mark.
Getting worked up was not useful to him right now, so he
made an effort to calm his thoughts. Severus took Dumbledore’s Pensieve from
the shelf and placed it on the desk. He began to remove various thoughts so
that, on the off chance Potter would actually breach his mind; he would not
risk the privacy of certain regrettable memories. If Severus had been willing
to admit it, his biggest fear in teaching Occlumency to Potter was that Potter
would be successful and uncover some forgotten corner of his mind that he
wished to guard.
Ahh, he thought as he probed for those dangerous memories,
there IT is. That particular memory mustn’t be available. He
extracted it, and several more. The pantsing he took after O.W.L.’s, the time
they saw him kiss a girl and had chanted ‘grease ball’ in front of her, the
night he tried and failed to catch Lupin in the tunnel near the school, were
all memories he extracted. None though, was as devastating as that one
Finding it caused him to relive it; the night he took the
‘Dark Mark’. That night forced him to admit his folly to himself, and to
renounce the Dark Lord the very next day to Dumbledore. Until it happened, he
did not fully understand his own heart, but that event had put it all in stark
relief. He was not a blind disciple and even though he had passed their damned
test, he would never allow someone to force him into such submission again.
His unique situation had proved a windfall for Dumbledore and his ‘Order’, and
Severus had been forced to except Dumbledore’s terms in order to receive the protection
and freedom of Hogwarts castle. It was the price he had to pay for his
The Dark Lord was a master of the perverse. He could play
with any victim like a cat, or he could simply, and nonchalantly, strike a
deathblow and go on as though there was nothing amiss. His minions lived in
fear and submissive respect, doing as they were told. He lured them in too
deep to get out, and then kept them prisoner in his twisted cult of lies and
promises of knowledge and power. Lord Voldemort never gave anything freely; it
always came at a price.
The night of his initiation Severus had been literally
tingling with excitement. The other Death Eaters had enticed and dazzled him
until he was convinced taking the mark would be his entrée into the most powerful
society ever envisioned by man or wizard. Untold secrets would be his. Power
and control would be his. All he had to do was accept the mark.
He arrived at the appointed time at the Malfoy mansion.
Torches burned brightly, lighting the way to the heavy black wooden doors. He,
as the neophyte, was not to enter at the front, but through a side passageway.
It led him down many steps to a small, hewed stone, antechamber. A single
torch lit the space. The light fluttered over the walls and he stood tall and
proud as he waited. This night was his.
Soon the door to the inner sanctum opened and a face peered
out. It was that ‘rat boy’, Pettigrew. Severus despised him but when
Pettigrew beckoned to him, Severus followed. Had he known what was in store,
he would have run, but he was proud and he thought himself about to become a
lord among wizards, so he entered.
The room was arranged with a series of steps rising up in
the darkness, in a semi-circle. At the bottom was an open area and directly
across from the stepped area was a dais upon which sat a chair. Pettigrew led
him to the center of the open area and told him to wait there. As Peter walked
away some type of magical light suddenly shone up from the floor at Severus’
feet. He was annoyed by this ‘spotlight’ and stepped to the side of it. At
once, tremendous pain coursed through his body, nearly knocking him over in its
intensity. He jumped back toward the circle of light and found relief. He
tried gingerly moving out of the light in the opposite direction and
experienced the same pain. So, he was trapped. This did not bode well and he
began to worry. What if they were going to do something else to him, not give
him the mark?
Severus tried to calm his mind. After all, he had proved
his allegiance and had impressed the other Death Eaters. He could sense that.
He would not assume the worst yet, but he got out his wand and held it at his
side. Soon a quiet murmuring and rustling announced the arrival of the marked
ones; Lord Voldemort’s Death Eaters. They wore cloaks with deep hoods that
obscured their faces. They filed in at the top of the stepped area and took
seats around the semi-circle. There was little talking. Severus remained
standing straight and still with his head high. He would not cower.
Next, a door opened, and a chill breeze whished past
Severus. He shuddered. In the doorway stood a tall thin form, also hooded and
cloaked. The form swept into the room and up on to the dais then sank into the
chair with a flourished of its cape. “Who is it that seeks to join the legion
of the Dark Mark?” boomed Lord Voldemort.
“I, Severus Snape wish to join with you,” was the reply.
Severus had made the declaration with as much force and dignity that he could
“You must prove yourself, Severus Snape,” came the
response. Severus had stiffened at this and prepared himself for what was to
come. But, what might that be he wondered? Some form of branding,
certainly. Some pain with it, most likely. Perhaps a statement of
“You, Severus, are here to be judged. Are you the grist or
are you the millstone? Are you the jackal or are you the lamb? Are you the
hunter or are you the prey? This I must know
before I allow you to serve me,” said Lord Voldemort expansively. He rose and
began to pace around the dais.
“I have a small test for those with the desire to serve me
and to prosper under my tutelage.” Severus had bent his concentration upon
Voldemort. While he was listening, he decided to try to probe the mind of
this powerful dark wizard. Severus read the thoughts of most people quite
easily. When he made his attempt now, he was met with a completely alien force
that neither allowed him in nor seemed to be forcing him out.
“The test goes thus. Peter, bring in our other guest.”
Pettigrew brought in a man, shackled and dirty, with wild looking hair. His
wore clothing that was ripped and shredded and where his skin was visible;
there were signs of healing cuts. He was barefoot and a noose was tied around
the man’s neck. Peter fastened the end of the rope to a metal ring embedded in
the floor and calmly walked back to his seat. The man was breathing heavily
and looked angrily toward Snape.
“Good, Good,” Voldemort said in a silky voice. “Now,” he
said theatrically, turning to face Severus. “The challenge!” he paused for
effect. “If you choose to join with me, you must first kill this man who is a
traitor to me.” Severus raised an eyebrow, but dared no more. He took a
moment to consider. The man meant nothing to Severus, so killing him would be
as simple as ‘Avada Kedavra’, and then he would be in. He was reluctant to
kill for no apparent reason, however, his leader said the man was a traitor.
Severus was ambiguous about it, but decided to proceed.
“I am happy to do my lord’s bidding,” he said clearly to the
room. He raised his wand and prepared himself to perform the spell.
“Such prompt obedience. I am impressed Severus. And ready
with the spell, then? First, state your intention for the assemblage.”
“I will kill your enemy, My Lord, on
your command,” said Severus. He felt he had delivered that statement quite
grandly, and he had certainly impressed his soon-to-be brothers in darkness.
He stood waiting for his instructions. Perhaps this was only a test of his
resolve and he would not be killing the man after all. He decided to continue
to try to probe Voldemort’s mind as he waited. It was very resistant to his
“Severus, you have stated your intention and you must follow
through. Now for the conditions of the killing. Neither of you will have
wands….Yes, Severus, this man is a wizard as well. Andres here…” Voldemort
indicated the shackled man, “stood in the same position you do now but three
weeks ago. He declared he would NOT kill for me. At that moment, Andres
became the hunted and not the hunter.”
Severus’ concentration was broken. What did Voldemort mean?
“You will fight Andres to the death. If you win, Andres
will be dead and you will be initiated into my little family,” he spread his
arms wide. “If you lose, well... you’ll be dead, and Andres will have to fight
again, until he is killed. Who will leave the room alive, I wonder?”
Voldemort was clearly enjoying this charade. Severus was
now suffering from serious doubts. Voldemort took his seat again. “The rules
of the fight, then,” he said with a voice as smooth and as sharp as ice. “As I
said, no wands. You will fight with these daggers.” Voldemort indicated some
knives that Pettigrew was holding in a cloth wrapping. “And to ensure a fair
fight with no hidden weapons...” there was a sniggering from the cloaked cadre
behind him, “…you will fight naked, such as the ancient Spartans did. Disrobe
Severus took a deep breath and tried to think. It was a
trap no matter how one looked at it. Kill or be killed. In addition he was to
be humiliated by this puerile display. He could see no options, as he could
certainly not escape the room alive. Hatred welled up in him but he had to go
ahead, there was no choice in it.
With as much dignity as he could muster, Snape began to
remove his clothes. Pettigrew removed the shackles from Andres’ hands and then
yanked the rope around the man’s neck until he too stripped. Severus looked
sideways at his adversary. The man was lean and might have been muscular at
one time, but now was a wasted version of that self. Severus was not an
athletic person, but he was fit enough. As he finished undressing, he began to
hear muffled laughter from the assembled watchers including the voice of a
woman. Severus knew his face was flushed despite his attempt to control his
He was shown the knives and he pointed at one, which
Pettigrew tossed at his feet. The remaining one was given to the agitated
Andres. The circle of light imprisoning Severus suddenly expanded to encircle
the entire floor. Pettigrew pushed Andres through it into the center. He
screamed in pain from breaching the light curtain. Andres fell to the floor
curled in a ball and moaning. Just painful enough to keep us inside mused
Snape. Soon Andres forced himself to his feet. “You may begin,” said
The fight began with a lot of dancing back and forth,
thrusts, parries and wide arching swings. A few cuts for Severus, a few for
his opponent. This was going to be difficult, thought Severus panting. He was
twenty-one as opposed to Andres who must have been forty. It might have been
an advantage, but he had never fought in such a way. He was not a killer, not
like this. He preferred subtlety to this brawl of a knife fight. He tried to
concentrate wholly on the fight but the comments, laughter, and now wagering,
by the Death Eaters was distracting. Lord Voldemort presided over the entire
thing like a deranged tyrant.
The fight continued and Severus lost track of the time.
Andres had nothing to lose. Neither did he. When this realization fully hit
him the anger he felt fired his resolve. The gathered throng didn’t really
care about the outcome. He could win or lose and they would still have their
entertainment. He hated Voldemort. He hated these Death Eaters. He hated
himself for thinking this would be his salvation. He attacked with
overwhelming fury. Ignoring sense and reason, he simply charged straight at
his opponent knocking him to the ground. They rolled toward the edge of the
light and Severus forced Andres’ knife arm to the ground, and his hand through
the curtain of light. Andres bawled in pain and dropped his knife. Without
thinking further, Severus slit Andres’ throat.
Severus was spattered with the blood of this unknown enemy.
Blood covered everything. As he tried to rise, he slumped over the still warm
body, totally spent. He struggled to get to his knees and he realized he had
been stabbed and cut more than a few times. He staggered over to the edge of
the light where his clothes lay on the floor. Picking up his shirt, he tried
to wipe away the smell of the dead man’s blood. The circle of light
disappeared. A hand caught his arm. The woman was there, earthy yet hard. He
recognized her as Bellatrix Black. She wiped her hand over his chest and
tasted it. “Blood, sweat and tears, Severus?” she asked, laughing.
“Very good, Severus. I am proud of your triumph. Now you
must finish the task, making your initiation complete,” announced the Dark
Lord. Severus stopped wiping and turned to face Lord Voldemort. What did he
expect now? Snape, without thinking, tried the mind penetration technique. He
wished he hadn’t however, because he immediately broke through. ‘You must eat
the freshly killed flesh of my enemy and thus you will become my Death Eater.
If you refuse this you will be killed.’ Severus realized that Voldemort was in
control of even this. He had allowed Snape to see this thought and only this.
It was as good as if he had spoken the words, this Severus knew. He was now a
puppet just as were the rest of the pathetic creatures in this room. He picked
up the knife, walked swiftly over to the body, dropped to his knees and
screaming, slit open the man’s chest, pulling out the heart of his victim. He
drew his blade across it and swallowed the bit of flesh that he had removed.
Nausea welled up in him, but he realized that he was still in danger, and
willed himself not to vomit. When would this nightmare end, he wondered.
Suddenly there was a Death Eater on each side, holding his
arms. They pulled him toward the dais and dragged him to the floor. Two others
held his legs. He was pinned to the ground on his stomach, spread eagle, as
Lord Voldemort approached. A huge snake slithered out from behind Voldemort’s
chair. It slid over his out stretched arm and across his back. He could feel
the weight of it upon him. His left arm was twisted to expose his forearm. He
could not see what was happening. He heard Lord Voldemort speak a spell and
suddenly the snake struck, sinking its fangs into his arm. A stabbing pain
shot through him but he was past caring.
When they released him, he dressed and pulled on his boots.
His fellow Death Eaters clapped him on the back and congratulated him. He
nodded at them and smiled, tight lipped. They were all swilling wine now. They
were no better than beasts. He felt sick. Severus did not look at his mark,
he knew it was there and he did not care to see it. He just moved toward the
“The Dark Lord will summon you when he needs you,” murmured
Lucius Malfoy who waited near the door. “Your mark will tell you when.”
Lucius grabbed the newly made mark tightly, inflicting terrible pain. Severus
refused to respond. He looked into Lucius’ face. There was a wicked smile
there. Severus nodded to Lucius curtly and left the house.
The next day, Severus went to Hogwarts. He begged an
audience with Dumbledore and he told the entire story, holding back only a few
details, such as the presence of Pettigrew in case he needed a larger
bargaining chip. He asked for a way out. He never intended to end up as the
pawn of a twisted maniac. He wanted fame and power, not servitude. It was the
first time he had asked anyone for help.
Dumbledore had listened intently and proposed an arrangement
to benefit both of them. In exchange for a position at Hogwarts where he would
be safe, Severus was to continue on as a Death Eater and a spy for Dumbledore’s
Order. He had no choice but to agree. It was the only way he could have
resisted becoming a mere boot lick to the great Lord Voldemort. Dumbledore’s
parting shot was, “If you deceive me, I will kill you, Severus. Make no
Three months later, Voldemort was virtually destroyed by a
small child; one Harry Potter, and Severus was free of him. He owed Harry for
this release as he owed James Potter for saving him from the werewolf, Lupin.
He also owed James for every insult and humiliation from his school days. He
had despised James Potter and then James had shown him pity. It was bile in
his throat. Like his humiliation by the Death Eaters, people and events were
always conspiring to push him down and rob him of glory. He wanted to be the
one pulling the strings but that role always eluded him.
Just then, there was a knock at the door, pulling Severus
back to the present. Harry Potter had arrived for his Occlumency lesson. He entered
and laid his books down. Severus was rude, as always. He hated the boy and he
hated the father as much as he hated himself. So as soon as Harry raised his
wand in defense, Severus attacked Harry’s mind with abandon. Harry was soon
flat on the floor, and Severus Snape felt ever so much better.
Author’s note: Severus Snape began Hogwarts in 1971, along with James
Potter and Peter Pettigrew. Hogwarts students are to be eleven when entering
school which means that Snape was born somewhere between September of 1959 and August
of 1960. Harry Potter was born in 1980 and was attacked on October 31, 1981.
Given the dates supported by the canon, Snape would likely have been 21 in late
July or early August, when the taking of the dark mark is set. Snape tells
Umbridge in OOtP that he has been at Hogwarts 14 years. Based on the timeline,
that would mean he started somewhere between September and December of 1981. Peter
Pettigrew was made secret keeper on October 24, 1981, but could have been a
disciple of Voldemort some months prior to the killing of the Potter’s. I am,
of course making a specific selection from the possible options presented by
the canon timeline. I am relying upon the master timeline in the Harry Potter
to support my conclusions.