By Jessica Beaubien (AKA Naif)
Word Count: 4700
Rating: PG for langauge
Summary: What if Snape had gotten to the Potter’s house in time to rescue Harry and Lily?
Some days are just not worth leaving the lab, or so Severus thought the morning of the 31st of October in 1981. If he was being honest with himself, quite a few days were just not worth it. End of discussion. He was bone tired. He’d been working far too many hours and he could hardly remember when he’d slept last. He rubbed a long-fingered potion-stained hand across his eyes in an effort to push away the headache he could feel building, blinking tiredly at the potion that he was watching turn from a dark midnight black to a pale violet by degrees. It was almost ready. This would be the last of the dozen potions the Dark Lord had requested three days ago. Honestly, all Severus wanted at this stage was to go home to Prince Manor and catch a few well-deserved hours of sleep in peace without anyone disturbing him.
He let his hand fall to his side as he continued to watch the delicate mixture bubble away. Long strands of greasy hair hung limp around his face. His black outer robes were draped on the back of the chair set behind his cluttered desk. Vials and bottles of ingredients sat interspersed with fresh and dried plants on his worktable. His knives and measuring scales were set neatly amongst the chaos. Great, he would still have at least another two to three hours of cleaning to do before he could leave, and that was if he used magic. Looking at the pile of cauldrons set in front of the sink, he decided magic would have to do. At this point he would just have to make sure he sterilized them before he used the room again next time he brewed. Not that he didn’t do that out of force of habit anyways, seeing as this was a publicly used space the Malfoys allowed any of their ‘guests’ to use. Severus shivered at the memory of some of the nastier things he’d discovered in this room.
Finally the chime went off, pulling him out of his reverie and back to his work. The potion was a delicate, almost clear violet. Perfect. He pulled the cauldron off the heat to cool and turned off the burner. He set about tidying up. His open potion case was soon filled with neatly placed vials as he waved his wand wordlessly around his work area, sending the ingredients back into their slot. He wouldn’t use anyone else’s ingredients; it was just not worth the risk of contamination with these more delicate mixtures. Severus had his pride after all, and his potions were perfect. That was just something he wouldn’t compromise on. Making a mental note of what needed filling and replacing, he closed the case and cast cleaning charms about the room until it was just as spotless as it had been when he entered. Satisfied, he turned to the cauldrons and made short work of spelling them clean and away. Nodding to himself, he turned back to his potion to find a twirling, dancing mass on the bottom of the largest cauldron, and knew it was done. Decanting this particular potion took time and the finest ingredients.
Once he had exactly six equal portions of the potion divided up into diamond vials, Severus knew he was ready to deliver the crate of finished products to the Dark Lord. He unrolled his white button-down shirt, flinching slightly as his hand brushed the brand on his left arm. How he hated that mark. He let his eyes close slightly in regret and sorrow at what price he had already paid for his mistakes. Pushing away the maudlin thoughts, he clasped the buttons on the sleeve closed and pulled on his flowing outer robes. He slid his potion case into his pocket. He gathered up his books, notes, and notebook, making a neat stack tied with twine and shrank the lot, sliding it in his pocket. Gathering the six vials, he set them next to the glass and crystal vials in the large crate that held the potions in a stable environment. He’d worked hard on making these small crates that were spelled with a series of wards to keep their contents safe during shipping and travel.
He lifted the crate and briefly wondered if he should slip into his Death Eater robes before heading before the Dark Lord. Deciding he was just too tired and couldn’t be bothered, he walked out of the lab and up the dungeon steps towards the Malfoy’s reception room. About a month ago they had moved to Malfoy Manor after the wards around Riddle Manor had been torn down in an Order Raid. A few of the Death Eaters were caught, but the Dark Lord escaped. Severus was slightly disappointed, but he’d known that would happen so he hadn’t dwelt on it too much. He disliked being here enough as it was, and scowled as he turned another corner and climbed more stairs. Merlin help him, how he disliked the layout of this mansion. It was like the Malfoys just HAD to make everyone walk through the family hall so they could see the portraits of ALL the generations of Malfoys. Severus sneered at the moving portraits and strode through the hall with his robes billowing behind him in his typical bat-like movement. He loved the derogatory sneers and comments he received from the disgruntled portraits. Oh how he’d love to just tell them to shut it, or better yet, cast a permanent silencing charm on the lot! Pompous arrogant dunderheads!
The door to the reception room was ajar and as Severus neared it, he could hear two voices from within. He’d just started to step through when the first voice spoke loudly and he froze in startled surprise, nearly dropping his crate in the process.
“I know their location, my Lord!” The voice of Peter Pettigrew filled the hall with his loud joyful cry. He sounded like Christmas had come early, bearing loads of candies.
“Silence, fool!” the Dark Lord hissed darkly. His voice was much quieter and Severus nearly had to strain to hear it.
“But my Lord. I’ve done it. I’ve got their location and I know how to provide you with the location. Please, my Lord, won’t you give me the honour of your mark now?” Pettigrew pleaded, his voice still resonating clear down the hall. The sheer volume of the petulant tone grated on Severus’ refined hearing.
“Enough, worm! You will be silent!” the Dark Lord hissed in a deadly whisper. Before the cowering man could respond, the Dark Lord cried out with delight-filled malice, “Crucio!” Pettigrew’s screams were instantaneous and nearly obscured the Dark Lord’s next words. “Severussss, do come in, it doesn’t become you to skulk in the shadows.”
“Forgive me, my Lord, I was on my way to deliver the finished potions,” Severus said in his smooth low baritone voice as he pushed the door all the way open and walked into the room with his strong confident stride.
“Excellent, Severus. Leave them here, you’re dismissed. Oh, do send dear Bella in on your way out, Severus,” the Dark Lord said as Severus was about to walk out of the room, having left the crate on the side table the Dark Lord had indicated.
“Of course, my Lord,” Severus said, bowing before departing the room and heading up towards the practice room on the second floor where he knew Bella and the Lestranges would be. He made quick work of delivering his message and leaving Malfoy Manor.
Severus apparated to his family’s mansion, Prince Manor. He figured it was the safest place to go from Malfoy Manor. He was still thinking about what he’d overheard. He knew the Dark Lord was obsessed with the prophecy, something he had never thought of when he’d first overheard it. How foolish he’d been. How young. He knew countless innocent children had been affected by the war. Though even in his insanity, the Dark Lord had never targeted a magical child for death or torture. Not that it made it right, but it had been one of the only reasons Severus could bear to continue as a Death Eater. He had been that scared child once; he couldn’t stand to look at a child who suffered and not be reminded brutally of his upbringing.
Forcefully pushing those thoughts aside, he focused on the task at hand. He couldn’t very well go straight to Godric’s Hollow dressed as he was, smelling of the potion lab and exhausted beyond measure. No, he needed to shower and at the very least down a strengthening and invigorating draught before he contemplated his plan of action.
He made his swift way up through the winding hallways and staircases, idly wondering why all ancient pure-blood manors had to be built in a most infuriating labyrinth. It would be so much easier if everything was in nice linear paths. He shook his head. Merlin, he was truly tired for his thoughts to wander from topic to topic like that. Sighing, he pushed open the door to his bedchamber and stepped up to his wardrobe. Selecting a fresh button-down shirt and black trousers, black frock coat and outer robes as well as a cloak, since it was likely to be chilly where he was headed. By the light of a candle on his bedside table, he threw his selections on his bed, ignoring the rest of the room. He pulled out the rest of what he would need and turned towards his ensuite bathroom.
Severus stepped into the burning spray of hot water with a soft sigh. He let his mind wander to the problem at hand as the water did wonders to loosen his tight muscles. He indulged in a rather lengthy shower, secure in the knowledge that nothing would happen until nightfall, the Dark Lord’s favorite time. After all, they were to meet tonight at Riddle Manor in the graveyard to celebrate Samhain. The Dark Lord would likely wish to kill the Potters at nightfall, as that was the beginning of Samhain’s power, right when the veil was thinnest. The peak of power would come at midnight, and the Dark Lord had a ritual he planned to perform then. That also might involve the Potters, for the Dark Lord’s moods had been inching deeper into insanity for the last week. They had all been tasked with finding the ‘child of Prophecy’ before October 31st.
Severus wondered how best to go about warning them. He hadn’t directly spoken to Lily since their row outside the Gryffindor Common-room in Fifth year. Not likely to be a good response there. Severus had never gotten along with Potter and their animosity hadn’t dimmed at all. If Severus was honest with himself, he would admit that Potter infuriated him, but if the man were to stop antagonizing him Severus would be content to ignore the Auror. Likely not a good idea to just show up at their home uninvited and demand they leave. However, what other options did he have?
He could always attempt to get a hold of Dumbledore. Not likely to work, for the man was at the Ministry dealing with something or another for the last four days. So, he was either still there or too exhausted to deal with the problem tonight. Severus had to admit he didn’t trust Dumbledore completely. Not after he realized tonight that Dumbledore wasn’t the Secret Keeper for the Potters. No, that had shaken his faith in the man.
That brought him right back to where he’d begun. He couldn’t call the Ministry or the Auror’s, as he wasn’t the Secret Keeper and he couldn’t provide their location. That wouldn’t help them escape. It would also likely lead to more death. The Dark Lord was likely to bring a few of his trusted field Death Eaters. Bellatrix, the Lestrange brothers, the Carrows, maybe McNair. Severus couldn’t be sure who all would be called. He knew that Lucius Malfoy and Hector Nott would be busy preparing for the Samhain festival celebration of tonight. That ruled them both out.
Shaking his head, he sighed. He had no choice. He couldn’t in good conscience do nothing. An innocent child and his once-best friend whom he still loved as a blood sister would die if he did nothing. He couldn’t condone that. He had to act. He didn’t trust anyone else, so that left only him. Decision made Severus get out of the shower, dry, and dress himself. He would grab a meal, drink the potions he needed, and then apparate to Godric’s Hallow and face the Potters. Come what may, the most important thing was ensuring the safety of the innocent child in that home. Lily could fight, but she wouldn’t stand a chance against the Dark Lord or his field Death Eaters. That left Potter, who could well take care of himself. He was an Auror, after all.
His meal was brief; he was as ready as he would ever be to face the Potters. He gave a tired sigh as he gazed up at the picture on his mantle, an enlarged print of two young children siting on a grassy hillside under a large tree whose branches danced in the wind. The boy was smiling, something all too rare even back then, and the girl was laughing delightedly. Lily and Severus, as they had been at age ten. Severus trailed a finger down the simple black frame, then grabbed the pot of Floo Powder and tossed some in calling out “Leaky Cauldron” in a loud clear voice.
Stepping out of the fireplace, Severus gazed around taking stock of the room. It was crowded and dark. No one bothered to look up as he swept through the room, gave a brief nod to Tom the proprietor and slipped out into the entrance to Diagon Alley. He apparated away just as soon as he’d stepped outside. A dizzied eternity later, or so Severus thought as he began to worry about the coming confrontation, Severus found himself standing on the opposite side of the street from the Potter Residence.
With a final deep breath Severus let his features turn blank, bringing up his masks and shields so that nothing showed on his face. He walked up to the gate, pushed it open slowly and walked up the lane to the door. With three sharp raps on its wooden surface, Severus waited for its owner to come.
“What do you want, Snivelly?” Potter demanded from the smallest crack in the doorway.
“Let me in, Potter; what I have to say should not be relayed on doorsteps!” Severus growled in a dark hiss. So much for remaining neutral. Potter’s utterance of that nickname was enough to make his blood boil. There was a long pause in which Potter glared at Severus before pulling the door open and letting Severus slip inside. The thud of the door closing behind him was all he heard resonating through the silence.
“Well, tell me what in Merlin’s name you’re doing here?!” Potter half-asked-half-demanded.
“You have been betrayed. Pettigrew has disclosed your location to the Dark Lord. Gather what you need; we must leave at once,” Severus stated bluntly, his eyes leaving Potter to find the green eyes of the red-haired female standing in the doorway to the living room. In her arms was cradled her infant son, dressed in a green-blue-white striped onesie, his tiny arms wrapped around a stuffed blue-green snake with huge almond coloured eyes. One little hand was in his mouth while the other petted the stuffed toy. Severus could feel the corners of his lips twitch. That had been the gift he’d sent Lily when he’d learned she was pregnant. He hadn’t written his name, only sent the gifts anonymously, but he had known she would know who they came from. That she’d kept them was reassuring for his mission here tonight.
“Like hell we are going anywhere with you, Snivellous. If he-who-must-not-be-named knows where we are, it’s because of you! I’m not letting a Death Eater take my family anywhere. Albus said we’re safe here and Peter would never betray us! Unlike you!” Potter ranted. It was clear he was building up a head of steam.
“Tell me Potter, how exactly could I have revealed the location of a residence under the Fidelius Charm when I am not its Secret Keeper?” Severus asked in a condescending tone to the ranting man before him. His arms crossed over his chest as he glared at the impudent fool.
“You let him see it in your mind!” Potter declared after only a brief hesitation.
“Oh yes, and while I was at it I let him see that I was working for the Order of the Phoenix. That’s exactly why I’m upright and breathing right now! You’re an idiot, Potter. I can see that nothing’s changed in all these years,” Severus drawled sarcastically.
“You’re a Death Eater!” Potter stated, as if that was the answer to everything.
“Really Potter, stating the obvious is infantile. Your son could have done better!” Severus retorted clearly not impressed.
“There, you see? You don’t even deny it!” Potter stated loudly.
“James,” Lily said gently, coming to stand next to her husband, “maybe we should hear him out. If only for Harry’s sake.” Lily’s voice was just as soft as he remembered and her beauty was just as flawless in his eyes as it had always been. He felt his heart ache for what he had lost. Her friendship and trust.
“Ughmuagoo,” the strange sound resonated in the silence that fell after Lily’s words. It drew Severus’s gaze to the infant in Lily’s arms. He was startled to find two large green eyes almost identical to Lily’s, only slightly darker, gazing up at him from the small face. The boy’s eyes were almost too large for his face. He had wild black hair already beginning to match the unruly mop that Potter called hair. The tiny little fist that had been in the boy’s mouth earlier was reaching questioningly towards him. Without even realizing what he was doing, Severus extended his right hand slowly towards the child, letting the boy’s tiny fist close over his pointer finger, much like he’d do with his godson.
Before the boy had so much as finished latching onto Severus’s hand, Potter grabbed hold of Severus’s wrist and pulled it almost painfully away from the infant.
“Keep your filthy Death Eater hands off my son!” Potter growled darkly.
“Unhand me, Potter,” Severus hissed out darkly, his eyes flashing as his hand reached towards his wand. Severus had to forcefully remind himself of his purpose here and that cursing Potter wouldn’t accomplish it.
“Lily, take Harry upstairs,” Potter said calmly to his wife, though his gaze never left Severus.
“Yes, it’s Harry’s bedtime,” Lily replied. “I’ll just go lay him down in his crib and be back in a few minutes. Why don’t you two get settled down in the living room where we can talk?”
Severus watched as Lily walked off with Harry who turned in his mother’s arms to watch Severus.
“I want you gone, Snivellous,” Potter said, shoving him back towards the door and releasing him.
Severus caught himself on the door and glared at Potter. “I will once Lily and your son are safely out of this house. Whether that is with you or not is inconsequential.”
“You slimy rank bastard! If you think I’ll stand here and let you play your sick twisted Death Eater games with my family, you are sadly mistaken! Slimy greasy bastard, she’s MY wife. Mine! You can’t have her and your stupidly inept attempts at winning her affections are pathetic. Did you seriously think we wouldn’t see past your imbecilic attempt at taking her away? Well it won’t work, Snivellous. Maybe if you took a shower once in a while you wouldn’t be so blind! All that grease is affecting your…” As Potter continued ranting, Severus rolled his eyes and glared intently at the man, waiting until Potter paused long enough for him to speak.
“First!” Severus hissed in a cold deadly voice that silenced Potter instantly. “Had I wanted to simply ‘steal your wife’, to use your less than eloquent term, I would merely have to wait until the Dark Lord finished killing you and your son and presented her to me as my prize for being loyal. And second!” Severus sneered, cutting across Potter before he could even begin to speak. “I wouldn’t be risking my life by coming here to warn you. I wouldn’t have bothered to care if all I wanted was Lily. No, I am here because unless we leave NOW, your son will die. He is innocent in all this. I could care less about you, you’re an Auror, take care of yourself,” Severus spat the last out sourly. “Lily and your son do not deserve to die because you are a foolhardy Gryffindor who cannot see past his own selfish nose!”
“Why, you little slimy bastard. By Merlin’s hairy—” Potter began, but never got to finish the sentence as Lily came down the stairs at that moment.
“JAMES CHARLES POTTER!” Lily thundered in that frighteningly reproachful tone of voice she had often used when they had been children. “What did I tell you about using such language in my house?” She ranted at her husband. “Now it is clear that you BOTH,” she added bitingly shooting Severus a glare before turning her bright angry green eyes to Potter once more, “are unable to act like adults. Therefore, you will both march yourselves into the living room and SIT DOWN SILENTLY! We are going to act like adults and TALK this through like civilized humans! DO. I. MAKE. MYSELF. CLEAR?!”
Before either could so much as open their mouth, a loud shrieking could be heard coming from a chime on the mantle in the living room. Severus narrowed his eyes in that direction before turning around to look out the window that framed the door. Lily gasped loudly from behind him and Potter cursed, no doubt earning a glare from his wife.
“He is here,” Severus stated plainly. His dark eyes narrowed at the figure that stood framed by two tall men at the gate. He had wasted too much time arguing with Potter. He ought to have just grabbed Lily while she held the boy and apparated them away. It would have angered Potter, and likely Lily as well, but she would be safe. Now he doubted any of them would survive.
“Merlin help us all,” Potter cursed again. He grabbed Severus and forcefully turned him around. “Swear to me that you will keep them safe. Swear on your magic an unbreakable vow that you will do everything to keep them safe. Lily will bind us. Do it now and I will let you take them from here.”
“Give me your hand, Potter,” Severus said in a dark tone as he pulled back from Potter and faced him fully, extending his wand arm towards Potter. Lily held her wand, looking worried and concerned, fear creeping into her eyes. Potter took his hand firmly. Lily touched their joined hands with her wand tip.
“Do you swear to do everything in your power to protect Harry and Lily?” Potter asked.
“I do,” Severus stated, and a band of white light shot from Lily’s wand and circled their wrist. Potter remained silent and Lily pulled her wand away. The magic sank into their flesh, sealing the vow, and Potter released him, turning back to face the door.
“Lily, go upstairs and get Harry. Snape, get them out of here. I’ll hold them off as long as I can,” Potter said. For the first time in Severus’s memory, Potter used his real name.
Severus nodded and followed Lily up the stairs. He could hear the sounds of raised voices downstairs. No doubt Potter was trying to buy time by arguing with the Dark Lord. Merlin help him. Merlin help them all.
Severus was still taken aback by the change in Potter. Maybe it was because he’d seen the Dark Lord on his doorstep and Severus had been the least foul option available to the man, or maybe he was just desperate to save his family. Severus didn’t know. Frankly he didn’t really care about Potter’s motives. He was infuriated that Potter hadn’t just gone with the vow from the start. Clearly it would have been simpler, though of course Severus couldn’t really say anything more on the matter, since he himself hadn’t suggested it because he loathed vows. He was already bound by too many of them, and they were growing harder to bear, the farther he went along down this path. He knew sooner or later one of them would claim his life. There was just no way around it, bound as he was by so many vows. At some point, they would conflict and he would suffer the cost either in magic or blood.
There was always a cost.
As his mother used to say, we all pay for our sins eventually…though never in the way we expect to. Severus sighed. He was thinking too much again. Then again, for him that wasn’t unusual. They were nearing the nursery. Lily ran to her son who was crying loudly, no doubt scared from the blasting of the door and the shouting. The duel he could hear was reaching a crescendo. Then silence fell and he knew Potter was dead.
Lily froze, looking at the doorway where Severus stood. Her eyes were filled with tears, fear, and determination as she met his gaze. She gave a nod and he walked over to her, holding out the slim black stone that was the Portkey. Lily took Harry’s little hand in hers and pressed it flat so all three of their hands were intertwined around the stone. Severus whispered the activation word, “Prince Manor”. They were pulled by the navel in the next minute. Severus felt the rush of power as the Potter’s nursery was blasted apart in their wake. He hadn’t seen who had sent the powerful blasting curse, but he did feel the Dark Lord’s anger radiating in waves of blinding agony through the mark.
Their landing was rough. Severus had only a few seconds to grab Lily and pull her to himself to prevent her from falling and injuring Harry as they slammed into the ground. The infant got trapped between their bodies and Severus took the full brunt of the landing against his spine. He let out a gasp of air as pain shot through his back. Lily slowly pushed up off him and rose shakily to her feet, cradling her screaming son in her arms, rocking him gently back and forth to calm him. She looked around the ornate reception room they had landed in.
“Where are we?” she asked.
Severus pushed himself up, wincing at the agony of both the Dark Mark and his impact with the floor. “Welcome to Prince Manor, Lily,” he said, indicating the family crest resting high above the fireplace and the ornate tapestry that ran down from it, showing generations of the Prince line. The last row held Severus’s name and picture outlined in rich gold gilding, and a purple banner at the bottom read: Severus T. Snape, Lord Prince.