In the first place I want to
thank J.K. Rowling for writing such excellent books and creating the magical
world in which this story takes place.
Secondly, I need to mention
the film ‘American History X’ and the music and lyrics of U2, which have been
my two mayor sources of ideas and inspiration. (Can you spot the references and
I also want to thank my two betareaders:
Ada Kensington and Charlie O'Brein, and
my friends at the IG Kingdom, who read this one first.
The Worse Memories.
Snape was beside himself with anger as he watched Potter hurtle through the
door of his office. Realising that one of his jars filled with preserved
cockroaches had exploded he waved his wand and hissed: 'Reparo.'
While all the shattered pieces of glass were moving back together, he
paced to the door that Potter had forgotten to close in his hurry to get away.
Sticking his head through the doorway, he peered to the left, then to the
right. The boy had obviously disappeared because the corridor was empty.
"Damn that Potter," he cursed under his breath. Closing the
door with a loud slam, Snape vowed that he would never be forced to him again. "Those
Potters, they were all the same..." he thought.
For a few weeks he had thought
that Harry wasn't too bad after all. He had seen all those memories of
ridicule, of sadness and of humiliation during their private Occlumency lessons
and Snape knew how Harry must have felt; there certainly were some similarities
between Harry's youth and his own. But why did he have to behave so big-headed?
Why did he have to act so reckless, so foolish and so ignorant? Why did he always
want to be the centre of attention?
”Like father like son,” Snape
thought. “Some things just never change.”
Snape was still fuming with rage.
He hadn't been this angry in years. But he had made up his mind already that he
would never again teach Harry Occlumency, no matter what Dumbledore said and no
matter how many horrible lies the Dark Lord would plant in Potter's mind.
Why should he teach someone who
was sloppy, someone who would never practice or put in any effort during their
private lessons, someone without any respect for authority and someone who
would start nosing through his most private possessions?
”Yes, that was the worst part,” he
thought. Harry had dared to look into his most private thoughts. He had
probably been hoping for an opportunity to look into the Pensieve and have a
good laugh at Snape from the moment he had entered his office for their first
lesson back in January.
Snape's heartbeat was slowly
decreasing to its normal level and his breathing was becoming even and so he
turned around and walked back to his desk on which a shallow stone basin
engraved with runes and symbols was standing, its contents spreading a silvery
light through the shadowy room
He sighed loudly as he moved in
front of his desk; he hated to drag the past out into the light. When he
pointed his wand towards the thoughts swirling in the shallow stone basin,
engraved with runes and symbols, and moved the tip of his wand from the
Pensieve towards his temple, the silvery substance flew from the Pensieve into
As the silver touched his
temple, the memory that had been stored in the Pensieve returned with all its
terrible details. It was as if a film was being played very fast in front of
his eyes. He saw James cursing him again, heard himself shout "Filthy
little Mudbloods," and watched himself hanging upside down in the air.
Eventually the memory settled
down somewhere in the back of Snape's brain and all was quiet again. Snape
pointed his wand at the Pensieve for the second time and he moved his wand
towards himself so that again the silver flew into the greasy roots of his
scrawny, greasy-haired fifteen years old Snape wearing black Hogwarts robes was
walking silently and apprehensively through a dark corridor. He moved swiftly
past paintings and the occasional suit of armour, but every now and then he
glanced backwards, his eyes staying
watchful. Clearly he didn't want
to be seen or followed so late in the evening.
He stopped abruptly in front of a
door and muttered: "Alohomora," under his
breath. The lock clicked and the door swung open. He walked into the empty
Charms classroom and closed the door behind him with great care before looking
around eagerly. After a few seconds his smile wavered.
”She isn't here yet”' he thought,
slightly disappointed, “but she should be here any moment.”
He sat down on one of the chairs
and looked around the deserted room. He suddenly realized that this was the
very place where it had all started some three months previously, though it
seemed so much longer ago.
During that particular evening
he'd been sitting somewhere in this classroom doing his homework and she must
have been sitting next to him.
When he had opened his schoolbag
to put away his books later that evening back in the Slytherin
common room, he'd found out he had accidentally picked up the wrong bag. It had
taken him quite some time to figure out to whom it belonged, because none of
the schoolbooks placed in the bag carried any nametag; but when he had searched
the side-compartments his attention had been drawn by a small book, probably
some sort of agenda or diary, he'd thought when he'd picked it up.
With a shock, he had realized
that he himself had also been carrying his own diary with him in his bag that
evening, and that by then the person who'd gotten his bag could have found it
and could have been reading his private thoughts that very moment. Or worse: he
or she could have been quoting certain excerpts in front of other people. He had
been desperate to find out the identity of the owner of the bag lying before
his feet and of the small book in his hand.
He had opened the book to find
out that it was a diary as he had expected. He'd read her name on the first
page and he'd realized that she must have been one of those fifth year girls
from Ravenclaw whose first name he'd heard before:
Florence. He had never really paid much attention to her, but he was sure that
she had paid even less attention to him. Nevertheless he had also known that
her mother was a Muggle but that she had died a couple of years ago, or so he
was told. (Family-related facts were common knowledge for all students from Slytherin and all Slytherins knew
the exact pureness of any Hogwarts student. Facts like that were considered to
be of vital importance.)
Snape had known that he'd ought
to have closed the book at that point because he had known all that he had
needed to know in order to return the bag to its rightful owner but he had been
curious to find out what the average fifteen year old girl would write in her
diary. After all,
he hadn't talked that much with
other students, especially females from other houses. In his opinion you were
at school to learn, not to socialize and certainly not with half-bloods.
He had told himself that he would
just read the first few pages, just to find out if this girl was possibly mean
or stupid enough to read his diary. “If indeed she has found my diary at all,”
he'd reasoned at that time as he had of course carefully written his name on
schoolbook he possessed and perhaps
she'd look no further than the first book she found.
So he had started reading, but he
hadn't stopped after a few pages, because he had been so intrigued, so
fascinated by what she had written down that he had totally forgotten where he
was, and had lost all track of time. He hadn't noticed that the common-room
became less and less crowded and that the lights grew dimmer and dimmer. He had
just kept on reading until he'd reached the last page on which she'd written.
Through her words he gotten the
impression that she was an insecure and miserable girl who could have just as
easily become a spoiled and annoying bitch under the circumstances in which
she'd grown up, but the fact that she hadn't, strengthened Snape's believe that
she must be a special girl.
He had learned a lot about her
that evening: How much she regretted the fact that no one seemed to be
interested in her. Yes, some boys were interested in her because of her father
and their money and most girls wanted to be friends with her, but she just
didn't like talking
with them because all they ever talked
about was school or other things that didn't interest her at all.
At home it wasn't any better, as her
father was constantly busy with everything but her. He worked almost
twenty-four hours a day and if he wasn't working or sleeping he had to attend
important cocktail parties. Although he claimed he did it for 'his little princess';
in her opinion, he was just doing it to satisfy his desire to be successful in his career as a first class Healer at
Saint Mungo's and to hide and forget his grief for
losing his wife. Plus, he thought he could buy her off with presents and sweet
words whenever she was around.
Snape had of course felt quite
guilty at that time for reading all these personal doubts and desires.
The next day Snape had been very
careful to place all the books back into her bag in the right order, so that she
would under no circumstances find out that he had turned her bag inside out and
read her diary entries.
But all went well. He had handed
the bag over to Professor Flitwick, who didn't ask
any suspicious questions before telling him that a Ravenclaw
girl had given him Snape's bag only minutes ago and levitating Snape's bag from
his office into his hands. Before he could
examine his bag the bell
signalling the start of the first lesson had rang and it wasn't until the small
break later that morning that he could find a quiet place to see for himself if
anything was missing.
The first thing he had taken out
of his bag was of course his diary. At first glance everything had seemed to be
in order since the cover wasn't damaged, nor were there any pages missing.
When he had turned to the last
page however, his heart had skipped and his face had gone even paler than it
usually was. Someone had written in his diary, and there had been no doubt in
Snape's mind as to whom the handwriting belonged. Florence
had dared to write in his diary.
Of course he had been very angry
when he had seen what she had done but his indignity had changed into sympathy
after reading her comment. He had re-read it many times now and he knew it
almost by heart:
When you read this first sentence
I know you must be very angry at me
but I urge you to read on. I know
that I didn't have the right to read
the words you have so honestly
and carefully written down for no-one
but yourself and I hereby
apologize for the hurt it might cause you
now that you're reading this. However,
I do hope that you'll be able to forgive me and trust
me from now on because you and I have many things in common and it
would be a true waste for both of us if we keep ignoring
each other. I don't know if you
know anything whatsoever about me so
I'll just point out some striking
similarities between the two of us and after that I'll let you decide whether you want to
keep in touch with me
We're both not having a very
great time here at Hogwarts and neither
of us has any true friends in
this place. This may seem weird to you
as you might have seen me walking
and chatting with fellow Ravenclaws,
but I don't consider any of them
to be friends. They do not know the
true me. Nor does my father. Not
even he tries to look past the mask
of stiff politeness and false
superficiality I tend to wear in front
of other people.
But when I read your words I knew
I had finally found someone who felt
the same, someone I could share
my emotions with, someone who would
understand me. A fellow sufferer
and a true friend.
Please, please, please, talk to
me or write me a small note or give me
some other message but don't just
ignore me. Too many people have
already done that.
Together we can help each other.
The next day Snape had
accidentally bumped into Florence
just outside the Great Hall after lunch and like a real secret-agent he had
slipped a long letter into her pocket.
So they became secret pen-pals.
After a few weeks they had agreed that they couldn't just keep bumping into
each other like that as people could start asking awkward questions and
absolutely no-one was supposed to learn of their friendship.
Not only could this knowledge
have lead to them becoming outcasts in their own houses, it could also have
affected their families. Imagine what all Snape's father's respectable and
pure-blood friends would have said if they'd found out that his son had been
with Mudbloods. His father would
probably beat him to death. As for Florence's
father, he would probably never be promoted again if his superiors found out
that his daughter was corresponding with the son of a suspected dark wizard.
So the next step was secretly
meeting each other in a quiet place like the Forbidden Forest
early in the morning or like today, in a deserted classroom late at night. Most
of the time they had just talked and had fun with each other during those
private moments and Snape had found it wonderful to be able to just be himself,
to just be with her. He hadn't known how being in love felt, but he was quite
sure it had to be almost, if not the, way he felt when they were together. He
had been completely at ease in her presence.
It had almost gone wrong once
though. It actually did go wrong on that occasion because they had been seen
during one of their most intimate and romantic moments, but surprisingly enough
nothing had happened afterwards. Some nosy bird from Hufflepuff
named Bertha Jorkins had been stupid enough to follow
him to one of their secret meeting places behind the greenhouses. He had put
some nasty hexes on her afterwards, but he was quite sure that despite his
warnings not to, she had spilled the beans to a professor, or worse: the headmaster.
Surprisingly enough Snape hadn't been punished or even told off by anyone: even
the Hufflepuff girl had kept her mouth shut.
Snape started pacing up and down
the classroom because although he was positively sure that he hadn't been
followed today, he was feeling slightly worried about Florence’s
absence - she should have been here by now. He paused in front of one of the
windows because something outside had drawn his attention. A faint source of
light moving towards the Forbidden Forest
had caught his attention and he thought he could see two silhouettes. The one
in the front was wearing a nurse uniform so Snape assumed that it was Madam Pomfrey. She was also carrying a lantern.
The other shape seemed to be a boy, and Snape thought that he recognized
him, but he wasn't sure. He closed his eyes and he tried to rub the first signs
of drowsiness out of his eyes, but when he returned his gaze to the forest he
was surprised to find that there was nothing to see anymore. The light had disappeared
and the forest looked as dark and deserted of human beings as it usually did.
A sudden noise at the door made
him jump under the nearest desk. The door opened gingerly and Snape risked a
peek from under the table. He lowered his wand in relief and straightened up as
he saw that it was only Florence
who was looking nervously at all the dark shapes in the room she had just entered.
"You're late Florence. I
thought you'd never come," Snape greeted her with a slightly worried
"A lady is supposed to be
fashionably late," she reminded him playfully, "especially if she had
to make a detour around the library to avoid a certain foul creature named Mrs.
"Fair enough my dear lady. I
shall forgive you this time but only because it's almost Christmas. Shall we
risk a little more light or would you prefer to sit in the darkness?"
Snape asked while bowing gallantly like a real gentleman.
"I would much appreciate it
if you lit some candles," she replied. "I can hardly see my own
Snape waved his wand to close the
curtains and with another wave, a dozen candles illuminated the classroom and
Before him stood a slim, almost
skinny girl with dark, curly hair. She was neither stunningly pretty nor
abhorrently ugly and the only feature that made her stand out was her
beautifully coloured, big, blue eyes. The sight made Snape smile happily.
"So, are we going to stay
here until the early morning, talk and watch the sunrise?" Snape asked
expectantly. "Or do you have a better idea?"
"Until the sun rises?"
she asked nervously. "Well, I dunno..." Her
voice trailed off.
Snape sensed that something
wasn't right because she never behaved uncertain like that around him and the length of their meeting
couldn't be the problem as they had been together until dawn once or twice
before. When he told her this she became even more tense.
"What's wrong Florence?
Please tell me." Snape was feeling quite anxious now. "Is it because
you have to get up early tomorrow, and the Hogwarts Express will take you back
to your father?" Snape guessed correctly.
She nodded weakly but still
avoided eye-contact. "Well, that's certainly a bit disappointing, but if
that was the big deal," Snape told her, relieved. "Why didn't you
tell me earlier? Or did he inform you only yesterday that he and you are
expected at his boss' Christmas party later this week?"
"I should have told you
before," she mumbled guiltily while avoiding his eyes.
"But why? Why didn't you
tell me earlier then?" Snape asked while moving towards her, intending to
hold her hands.
"Because I didn't want to
make you unhappy." Snape was surprised to see that silent tears were now
flooding down her face. They embraced each other tightly and for a few moments
neither of them spoke. Then she whispered in his ear: "There's something
else I should have told you before."
Snape let go of her and just
stood there in the middle of the room waiting for her to speak again. He
couldn't believe his ears but Snape chose not to say anything and to let her
"It's something my father
told me about a month ago. And like I told you, I didn't mention it before
because I didn't want to cast a shadow over our meetings." Snape still
didn't reply so she continued.
"My father's got a new job
in another hospital and he's got to start working there next month. He'll be
more important and he's going to earn much more money. The only drawback is
that it's a hospital in New
York so we'll have to move to the USA.
The boat that's going to take
us there is leaving tomorrow
"There's nothing I can do to
change it," she added miserably. "I'm sorry Severus. We can still
write each other though."
"You're sorry?" Snape
finally replied through gritted teeth. "You're sorry. That's all you've
got to say?" he asked incredulously, pointing his finger at her.
"I trusted you! I've shared
my deepest and most desperate thoughts with you! I-I thought we had something
special, Florence. I
don't want your stupid letters. All I want is you!" He was nearly in tears
Florence tried to say something
but Snape didn't listen, instead continuing: "You're damn right you know.
You should have told me a month ago, instead of just a few hours before your
departure. Now it's way too late. You've lied to me Florence.
You've betrayed me. You've broken your promise. Our promise!"
She had hurt his soul worse that
he'd thought possible. He wanted to go away, to leave this cursed place, so he
turned around and strode towards the door. He kicked the door open with great
force and without a backwards glance he ran back through the gloomy corridor, back
to the dungeons.
cried desperately after him: "Forgive me Severus, please stay here! I'll
write you..." Her voice grew fainter and fainter as Snape continued to run
down the stairs.
As suddenly as it had begun it
was over again. The present-day Snape was standing again in the present-day
office. Of the three memories stored in the Pensieve, this one was probably the
worst. It had been the first and the last time that he had opened his heart for
It had been the last time he'd
seen or heard from her. He had never received a letter from her again. At that
time he'd thought that she had hated him for getting so angry and meanwhile he
had hated her and all things that weren't pureblood for many years after the
But years later he had learned
that the boat that was taking her to New York had never arrived in the USA. The authorities reckoned that the boat must have
sailed into a great storm and that the shipwreck and its passengers must be
lying somewhere at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
After her disappearance and the
disappearance of the enchanting lights she’d brought so briefly in his life,
darkness had all too soon taken back its place in his heard. A darkness more
intense and all-consuming than ever before.
Snape needed to sit down a few
seconds before he continued. For the third and last time Snape moved his wand
from the Pensieve towards his head and the third and last memory connected with
was sitting at a rough wooden table. He was wearing a black cloak, his face
almost completely hidden under the hood. Next to him another man equally
clothed sat down and he shoved a small glass filled with some smoking, fiery
substance towards him.
They were in a small, dingy and
very dirty room. It was getting dark outside though you couldn't really be sure
as the windows were so encrusted with grime that it was impossible to see a
thing through them. Instead most light came from the flickering flames of
and a fireplace in the corner.
They weren't the only ones in the
room. A grumpy-looking old man with a great deal of long grey hair and a beard
was standing behind a filthy-looking bar; on the other side of the room and
near the exit, someone else was sitting, almost hidden in the shadows, with his
chin on his chest, apparently asleep.
"Why did you want to meet me
here? Why couldn't we go to your place or mine, Regulus?" asked Snape
before he took a sip from his drink.
Snape knew Regulus Black both
from school and from their Death Eater meetings a couple of years later, though they hadn't been in the same year at Hogwarts
as Regulus was a few years younger and Regulus had also joined the Death Eaters
later than Snape had. At school Snape had never paid much attention to Regulus,
although that had much to do with the fact that Regulus had an older brother
named Sirius Black.
Snape had always found Regulus a
bit clamorous and slightly big-headed, but his opinion of Regulus had changed
quite a bit since they first met wearing Death Eater robes. They were paired up
together by the Dark Lord himself and they had gotten to know each other during
the long and boring days when
they had to watch someone's house or follow someone. Regulus had turned out to
be less full of himself than Snape thought him to be and they had grown as a
team and as friends over the last year.
Today Regulus had arranged to
meet each other in the Hog's Head.
"Because I don't want to be
overheard by your or my family or even our house-elf or one of the portraits
hanging in my house." He answered while turning his head towards Snape.
"I need to talk to someone who won't give me away the moment I tell him or
her what I'm about to tell you; the only one whose opinion I know I can
“You haven’t done
anything stupid, have you?” Snape asked indifferently. “It doesn’t involve
girls or anything, because I have no desire to get involved with trivial
problems concerning them.” He added wearily, knowing only too well Regulus’
most and his least favourite discussion topic.
“Well… As a matter
of fact it does,” Snape raised his eyebrows exasperatedly, “but not the way you
think.” Regulus added seriously.
“All right. Spill
the beans then, if you must.” Snape surrendered, while folding his arms
together and leaning backwards in his wooden chair.
moved closer towards him and spoke with an urgent voice: "I want to get out. I don't want this anymore.
"His voice was rising with every word he spoke.”I don't want to be a Death
Eater anymore, do the things He wants us to do. I-I'm done with it!"
Snape was astonished to hear Regulus say this: this wasn’t the
self-confident wizard he had known for years. Perhaps Regulus was pulling his
leg. Or he was trying to test him, find out if he was still faithful to the
Dark Lord. He moved forward in his chair, wearing a calculating look on his
face as he spoke: "But why? What happened? Please explain it to me. And
keep your voice down," he added warningly because he saw that the barman
was looking in their direction.
" All right. Listen,"
Regulus began, "remember the last Death Eater meeting last week? Remember
that the Dark Lord told me that he had a special assignment for me, Igor and a guy
"Yes," Snape replied
"He-he wanted us to k-kill
the McKinnons because they were part of this secret society that's plotting
against us. H-h-he had it all worked out. He wanted us to do it so that we
could p-prove our l-loyalty for him." Regulus was shaking slightly in his
"So we went to their house
two nights ago. W-we had agreed that Igor would kill the male and Travers would
kill the female. I would just be watching their backs because I was the
youngest. So we snuck into their house just as planned a-and I should have
suspected something by then because I almost tripped over a toy broomstick in
the living room." Tears were now welling up in his eyes and the tone in
his voice became darker and sadder.
"We crept upstairs and-and
we found them lying in their bed and Karkaroff and Travers d-did it. It
happened swiftly and smoothly. They didn't even have time to scream. I-I always
thought that watching someone die - especially an enemy - wouldn't affect me in
any way, but it did. But that wasn't the worst part. I wanted to leave that
cursed place as fast as possible but Travers wanted us to search the rest of the
house first. There could be valuable information hidden somewhere. A-a-and th-then we found her in the room next to her parents. I
didn't know the McKinnons had a four year old daughter. Did you know?"
Snape shook his head. Regulus
wore an expression of helpless desperation and sadness on his face. He
continued: "No one ever told me. And they told me that it was my turn to murder
someone because they had already done the other dirty work. I didn't want to, honestly.
You must believe me!"
He grabbed Snape's arm and as
Snape didn't interrupt him, Regulus continued: "They forced me. I didn't
have a choice. If I had refused they would have killed me on the spot. S-so
Regulus couldn't finish his
sentence and he started sobbing with his face buried in his hands. Snape didn't
know what to say so instead he looked around; he noticed that the pub was
completely empty now. The barman had disappeared to the back room behind the
bar and the other man had probably woken up and left without them realizing it.
Snape patted Regulus' arm weakly. He'd never been in a situation like this before
and didn't really know what to say or do.
Regulus pulled himself together
and started speaking again: "I can't do this anymore. After what I've
done... Nothing is ever going to make up for that, is it? I should never have
listened to my parents. “
"How did I ever buy into
their bullshit?" he roared. "They both think that what the Dark Lord
is doing is great. But instead of becoming Death Eaters themselves they made me
go. Oh yes, they are so proud of me. They keep talking about the purification
of the wizarding race and
the glory of working for this
noble cause. The glory of fighting for our rights. And the glory of dying for
Regulus looked into Snape's eyes
again and Snape looked into his. There was an angry sort of determination in
his eyes. "I've hardly slept the last two days, Severus, and in those
sleepless hours I've made a decision. I've been asking myself questions. You
know why I chose to tell this to you?"
“Because I’m the only person close to you who wouldn’t hand you over to
the Dark Lord after your confession. Because I’m your only friend. “He added silently,
almost not believing his own ears.
"Yes, that’s right. But also because of this: Just like me you're
very bright. Most Death Eaters or other supporters of the Dark Lord believe
everything He says. They never think for themselves. They act like zombies.
Damn it Severus! It's all bullshit!" Regulus suddenly exclaimed. The
barman had reappeared but he was acting as if he hadn't heard what Regulus was
"There are no physical,
mental, psychological or any other differences between Mudbloods and
pure-bloods. It was all made up by some twisted evil fool who lived a thousand
years ago. As for Muggles: I know they can be annoying, stupid and ignorant but
that's no reason to kill them for fun. We're all human beings. I know it and
you know it too Severus. You're too damn smart to be floating around pretending
you don't see all the holes in their bullshit."
"Look Regulus I can't deny
that you have your points but…" Snape began but Regulus interrupted him
before he could finish his sentence.
"Have you ever wondered why you joined the Death Eaters anyway? Why
did you do it? Why did I do it? Not just because of my parents. I was angry. Angry
about a society that apparently placed us wizards below Muggles. Angry about
the world I lived in. I was so angry I believed everything the Dark Lord
"Yes, you're right. I've
been acting like a fool too," Snape admitted.
"So we joined the Death
Eaters and what have we done next? We've taunted Muggles. We've cursed anyone
who opposed the Dark Lord. We've let out all our frustration. But has anything
you've done made your life better, Severus?"
"No," Snape replied
softly as the truth started to dawn on him. At last he began to see the errors
of his ways. "I feel the same. Everything I've done. It has just made it
worse. And I'm sick of it too."
"I knew you'd agree
Severus!" Regulus replied relieved. "I'm just tired of being pissed
off all the time. I'm just sick of following the Dark Lord."
“You know what?”
Regulus smiled wryly, “I reckon my brother was right after all. Turns out I
should have listened to him instead of to my parents.”
“Just because he
severed all his ties with you and your family, doesn’t mean he’s not a bloody
bigheaded bastard.” Snape spoke vehemently, his eyes flashing dangerously.
"And what should we do now?"
Snape asked. "We can't just stop going to Death Eater meetings. We need to
find a safe hide-out first, otherwise He will find us. We can't just disappear
without a reason. We could try to stage our death or something like that but
whatever we're going to do, we need to plan carefully and it might take some time."
"You mean that for the
moment we should act as if nothing has happened? I don't know if I can do that
Severus. The Dark Lord might ask me questions about the assassinations of the
McKinnons and I don't think I can hide my feelings from him. The Dark Lord is
"If you back out now he'll
be looking for you everywhere and I won't be able to help you. He knows we're
friends, Regulus.” Snape said sharply. “ He'll be watching my every move. I'll
never let you down, and I'll do whatever I can but I can't help you if you run
"But I'm scared. I
don't…" He stopped in mid-sentence and Snape knew why. They both felt the
Dark Mark burning on their skin.
"He knows!" Regulus
gasped with a look of terror on his face.
"Come outside with me,
now," Snape commanded through gritted teeth. They both stood up and walked
into the cool evening outside. The sun was setting and was slowly disappearing
behind the distant mountains, while the western horizon was turning orange and
red. Above the front door the sign with the picture of a wild boar's severed
head on it creaked ominously in the wind as Snape and Regulus walked a few
paces until they were out of the fading sunlight.
"Regulus, pull yourself
together. Listen to me. Just think about anything but the conversation we've
just had and keep your emotions under control."
"I'll try, I'll try,"
he whimpered terrified. "Just give me a few seconds. I need to
Regulus closed his eyes and tried
to get his breathing under control.
"Let's go," he said
after a few seconds. Snape was glad to hear some confidence in Regulus' voice.
They both put on their masks and Disapparated, Apparating into a new scene.
They were standing on the edge of
a clearing somewhere in an unknown forest. Under a blood-red sky a crowd was
gathering, all of them were wearing black cloaks. Some of them were carefully
adjusting their masks and hoods with their white hands, so to make sure that
their whole head was covered in black, while every few seconds a new Death
Eater Apparated with a loud cracking noise and emerged from among the shadows
and tall trees.
They were all moving towards the
middle of the clearing where they formed a circle around one hooded figure.
Snape and Regulus followed the others and soon all the Death Eaters were
present. None of them so much as whispered and the only sound that could be heard
was that of the wind blowing through the trees around them. Snape had been here
before as Lord Voldemort had more of these gathering points and it was never
certain were the next meeting would be. Snape and the other Death Eaters just
had to Disapparate and the Dark Mark would know where
to find its master.
The tall and thin figure in the
middle spoke with a high, cold voice. It was the Dark Lord himself: "Perhaps you're all wondering why you're
all here this Sunday evening." He walked slowly towards the place were
Snape and Regulus were standing. "But I think there is someone who does know.
Do you know why Severus?"
Voldemort looked straight into
the eyes of Snape. Snape could feel the Dark Lord looking into his mind but he
looked straight back into those scarlet, slit-pupilled
eyes, successfully blocking the memory the Dark Lord was seeking. "No, I
don't know, my Lord." Snape answered politely.
The Dark Lord lowered his hood
and revealed his pale, snake-like face. "Let me all enlighten you then. It
has reached my ears that there is someone amongst you who's trying to back
Next to Snape, Regulus was
trembling involuntarily with fright.
"And," the Dark Lord
continued triumphantly, "I know who it is. Now I had hoped that the person
of whom I'm speaking would have had the guts to declare his lack of loyalty
like a man, face to face, but apparently the coward's not even brave enough to
admit his treachery.
"Are you a coward, Regulus
Black?" He asked suddenly, with a cruel smile on his face. Snape froze
with shock at those last two words. "And don't lie to me because the Dark
Lord always knows."
"I'm no coward," Regulus
spat next to Snape. "You're the coward. You let other people do your dirty
work!" And without any warning he aimed his wand at the man in front of
him but before he could cry out a curse he was hit by a jet of red light. The
Dark Lord had struck first.
Voldemort waved his wand upwards
before the half unconscious Regulus could hit the ground; his limp and
defenceless body floated towards the middle of the circle of Death Eaters, his
feet hovering a few feet above the grass. It seemed as if an invisible hand was
clasped firmly around his throat and
prevented him from breathing. Voldemort and the other Death Eaters watched mercilessly
as Regulus' body ran slowly out of oxygen, while Snape could do nothing but
watch his best and only friend die.
After two terribly long minutes
that seemed to take ages the Dark Lord moved his wand away and the lifeless
body of Regulus hit the ground with a soft thud.
The Dark Lord was the first to
speak again: "I hope you have all learned something from this! You don't
just hand in your resignation to me. It's a lifetime of service or death. You
can choose. But remember that I'll always find out what you're saying when I'm
not around. The Dark Lord always knows! You are free to go."
Snape Disapparated almost
immediately but he chose not to go home yet, instead returning to Hogsmeade. He
was feeling something beyond grief as he walked through the twilight towards
the Hog's Head and he decided that he wanted to drink Firewhisky
until he forgot his own name. He'd seen Regulus die and he hadn't been able to
do anything to prevent it from happening. It had all happened so fast. He
opened the door and walked in to find the pub as crowded as it had been when
he'd left ten minutes ago: only the barman was around.
"A double Firewhiskey,"
he ordered as he lowered his hood. It took Snape only six seconds to empty his
glass. He didn't know how long he'd be able to keep drinking with this speed
but he didn't care. He didn't care about anything anymore since he had nothing to
lose and nothing to gain anymore, nothing at all. "Another double
Firewhiskey please," he said as he moved his empty glass towards the
"And a Butterbeer for me
please," spoke a voice from behind him. Snape turned his head around
curiously and to his surprise saw Albus Dumbledore, who walked towards him and
sat down next to him, politely asking, "You don't mind, do you Severus?"
"No, of course not."
Snape was too much taken aback to refuse. "What are you doing here?"
Dumbledore replied by asking the
same question in return: "What are you doing
here Severus? You haven't been
here in ages and today you've been here twice in half an hour."
"How do you know?"
Snape asked suspiciously, evading Dumbledore's question.
"Oh, I have my
sources," Dumbledore answered while exchanging looks with the barman.
"It doesn't matter how I found out but my sources also told me that you
weren't alone when you left ten minutes ago but now you are. What has happened
to your companion
Dumbledore sounded genuinely
concerned and Snape couldn't help but trust him. What else could he do? So he
told Dumbledore the truth: "He's dead. He has been murdered by the Dark
Lord, just because he wanted to quit. We both wanted to quit but the Dark Lord found
out that Regulus wanted to leave. And..."
His voice trembled and broke as Snape
searched for the right words to describe how he felt inside. He felt guilty
because he hadn't done anything and he felt helpless because of the unfairness
of it all. When the words didn’t come, he let himself go completely. He had
never shown emotions like this to anyone, but now he couldn’t help it anymore:
"He was the only friend I had. And I let him down."
"Severus, there's nothing
you could have done to prevent this from happening. It wasn't your fault that
Regulus couldn't control his emotions, nor was it his." Dumbledore pointed
"I know you can help me
Dumbledore," Snape spoke with hope in his voice. "I know you're
fighting against the Dark Lord. I know you can help me escape."
"I can and will help you,
but only when you promise me something, "Dumbledore answered.
"I'll never talk to any Death
Eater. I'll leave Great
Britain if I have to."
"But I want you to do just
the opposite Severus. I want you to keep on going to Voldemort and the Death
Eaters." Dumbledore said.
"You want me to become a
spy?" Snape asked slowly.
"Yes I do. I know I'm asking
a lot from you as you'll be alone and at great personal risk. But if you agree
you'll be able to give extremely valuable information to those who are fighting
against Voldemort, people who are fighting against those who've killed Regulus
and all the other, innocent victims. Do you think you are mentally able to do that?"
Dumbledore asked. You don't have to
answer right now."
Snape thought for a moment and
then replied honestly: "I want to work against the Dark Lord and his Death
Eaters. I want to revenge Regulus. I want to become a spy."
"Good," said Dumbledore
and he continued seriously, “trying to drown your sorrows in alcohol isn’t
going to help you, Severus. You’ll either drown with them or they’ll learn how
to swim.” Dumbledore shoved Snape’s glass away from him. "We need to arrange
Dumbledore's voice and face
faded. The whole painful memory found its place between later memories of tasks
carried out by Snape as spy.
Snape's dark and silent office
came into view again. It had only taken a few seconds for the memory to settle
down but in those seconds Snape had remembered every action and every single
He had only once visited the tomb that Regulus’
bereaved parents had chosen as a last resting place for their beloved son. He’d
felt that he needed to go there, but couldn’t really explain why. Perhaps he’d
gone there for forgiveness, to raise the dead, or maybe to say a last goodbye.
Or he might have hoped to close that particular door to the past, to let go of
a burden that was weighing heavily on his soul. Of course it hadn’t helped him
at all; he had never been and would never be able to let it go.
Feeling both relieved that it was all
over and miserable because of what he'd just experienced once again, Snape
picked up the Pensieve and put it away in a cupboard. Tonight the memories
would haunt him in his sleep again and again but for the moment he'd try to
forget about them – even though he knew that was almost impossible. He had to
live with those memories every single day of his life.