Dumbledore’s Legacy to the Half-Blood Prince
Chapter One: Dumbledore’s Last Letter
Severus Snape groaned as he opened his eyes and
shifted his weight on the hard mattress. His dark, lank hair fell back from
his face. He stretched, sliding his feet past the bottom edge of the bed and
into the cold air. Snape forced himself out of bed and to the window where an
He wasn’t eating or sleeping too well these days,
and his dingy nightclothes billowed unattractively on his scrawny frame as he moved.
His skill at Occlumency helped to keep the nightmares at bay after Dumbledore’s
death a week ago, but the effort was taking a great toll on him. He didn’t
care too much about loyalty these days, and it took every drop of energy to
remain inconspicuous among the Death Eaters and the Dark Lord; to share in
their jubilation that Dumbledore was dead. He wished that there had never been
a Harry Potter.
The early dawn air hit Snape’s face
and neck with a cold blast as the window creaked open. He took the letter from
the scruffy barn owl and slammed the sash down, narrowly missing the owl. The
parchment in his long fingers was blank, and it remained so even after Snape
whispered “Aparecium” with a flick of his wand. With sudden realization, he
placed the letter on a shabby wooden dressing table, and pointed his wand at it
in silence. A silvery-bright, elongated form oozed from his wand tip and
lazily flapped its wings. The Patronus landed on the letter and struck with
vigor. Its beak tore at the thick parchment held in its impressive talons, and
ripped it to ribbons. Snape stood close by and peered down at the letter as
the Patronus faded.
The torn edges curled back to
reveal bright glowing writing on velvety black darkness. Snape swiftly read the
familiar slanting writing.
“My dear Severus,
This letter is a reminder to you of your promise to
me. You must continue our work, no matter how difficult or impossible it may
seem. If this letter has reached you, I have indeed met my end and Fawkes has
delivered this to an owl for you. I have also sent Patronus-inscribed letters
to each member of the Order, to inform them of your continued loyalties.
I need to tell you
of something essential. From the day you admitted your part in Voldemort’s
plan, which led to the murder of James and Lily Potter, I have seen you
struggle to control your fear and hatred. I have worried that the necessary
limits and restraints I placed upon you would turn you against me. And yes, I
have been deeply disappointed by how you have allowed your envy and fear to
I tell you all
this now because this is a time for clarity, a time to know your own strengths
and weaknesses. To know yourself. You were burdened with much pain as a
child, coupled with your mother’s legacy and the seduction of Voldemort’s
promise of power. Hear me… any less of a man than you would still be in
Voldemort’s thrall. You know I do not write these words lightly. If you have
had to end my life yourself, know that this was fate. It was my time. Keep no
guilt in your heart for me; it will poison you as surely as Marvolo’s ring did
I trust that you
will keep your promise to me to retain your cover as a Death Eater until
Voldemort can be destroyed, and to protect the students of Hogwarts, including
Harry Potter. You must resist your envy of others. Keep your gaze straight
ahead along your own path.
And hear me now,
Severus. You are brave. You are needed. You have my respect and trust.
The bright letters and darkness faded into the air
with a fizzing noise, curiously similar to the sound of a Fizzing Whizbee on
the tongue. Snape’s chest filled with a peculiar pain, and he backed into his
bed, sitting down heavily. He angrily squeezed his eyelids shut and cleared
his throat. This felt too much like childhood. Dumbledore had been the
closest thing to a father figure that he had ever had. But even now, he kept
the grief and guilt at bay with thoughts of Harry Potter. Dumbledore's
favorite. The great Harry Potter.
He remembered the last time he had
seen the boy on the Hogwarts school grounds. Potter had been filled with anger
and hate. The two of them opposed, with Death Eaters and Draco fleeing toward
the gates. It had been strangely satisfying and exhilarating to be able to
show Potter how feeble his skills still were. What gall to have been called a
coward by that young upstart, who took after his father in arrogance. The boy
knew nothing; he had only begun to scratch the surface of the Dark Arts. Snape
would dearly have loved to teach him a lesson or two, but that great brute of a
hippogriff had interfered.
Had Dumbledore misplaced his faith
in Potter? Or would this boy indeed defeat the Dark Lord, most likely
depending on the help of a host of others, and then reap the fame and rewards
all for himself? But no matter - Severus Snape knew what he had to do next,
and he was ready.