I’m not sure when it went wrong, really. One minute I was living my life in self loathing and disgrace, waiting for the end of my days. I wrapped myself in solitude as I wrapped myself in my robes, wearing it proudly. It was my destiny: to be born alone, live alone, and die alone. I was resigned to that fact. I expected it. I embraced it. I was bitter. Wearing the mask of a bitter man was as easy as donning the mask of a Death Eater once was. But the mask of the bitter man was not as heavy and did not carry the same price.
I became a Death Eater because I was weak. I told myself once that it was the best option for me. But I think I knew in my soul that it was not. I simply was not strong enough to say no to the one person who appeared to accept me. Of course, it was not me he had accepted, it was my abilities as a wizard. The one strong moment I displayed in my life was walking away from the lair of Voldemort, the seat of Darkness, the false lure of power, and allowing myself to be embraced by the Light, by Albus Dumbledore. And so I became a teacher, a shaper of young minds. How I hated them, the young minds, and the young faces full of promise. How many of them would allow themselves to be drawn in by a life of darkness? How many of them would fail to realize the chance they were given as students at Hogwarts? How many of them would fall in the battles to come? How many wasted minds sat in front of me, with shiny scrubbed and blank faces?
In all my years of teaching, I had but two students I held out any hope for. One son of the Dark, one daughter of the Light. I tried. How I tried to prevent the son of the Dark from become the heir of Evil. I tried to break the daughter of the Light, hoping against hope that I would not be able to. I did not attempt to break her spirit for my own enjoyment. I knew the times ahead would require a strong mind that was not fragile. She hated me. I expected that. But she was unbreakable. The daughter of Light became a woman of strength. She radiated it. She was feared in the Dark because of it. And the trials she had faced down would have been insurmountable for an ordinary young woman. But not this woman. She met the challenges head on. The deaths, the losses, the despair…nothing destroyed her strength. She was proof that what didn’t kill one made one stronger. The son of the Dark became weak, much to my chagrin. He reveled in the excesses of the Dark. It softened him. He became cold, petty and cruel. A waste of skin, really. A mirror image of his father. Not the best of role models to be certain.
Then of course, was the golden boy. Potter. It is difficult for me to say that name without spitting out those two syllables. As was his father, so was he. Or so I thought. His father was popular and the so called “King of Gryffindor.” I, of course, was Slytherin and by nature, his enemy. While he shone brightly during his youth, there was a certain air of entitlement to him. He could be as cold as any Slytherin when it so behooved him. Yes, he saved my life. But I often wonder how much of that was simply saving the skins of his friends, the dogman Black and the werewolf Lupin. In spite of my extreme dislike of James Potter, I did not help plan his death. I did not even know it was going to happen until it was too late for me to do anything anyway. Not that I necessarily would have prevented it had I had the ability. I would, however, have done my best to prevent the death of Lily Evans. To this day, I cannot make my lips form the name Lily Potter. What a waste of a brilliant witch her death was. I always blamed Potter for her death. Nothing that anyone can tell me will make me change my mind about that. Potter. Rash, bold, at times expressed the same air of entitlement as his father. But unlike his father, there was a sadness and a quiet strength about him. I surmise that one does not become “The Boy Who Lived” without carrying scars deeper than the one on his forehead. The scars inside built character. Now, although I still hate the two syllables that form his name, I have a grudging respect for the young man who faced down death countless times and lived to spell the end of Voldemort.
The werewolf I mentioned before, Lupin, has become something akin to a friend. He is a great deal more like me than either of us would care to admit. We have both been prisoners of what we are or were. He was (and still is) a prisoner to the lunar cycle. I was a prisoner to my Dark Mark. He has the confounding ability to leap over his despair. That is something I am still learning. Lupin is brave. Braver than any other in the Order. Braver than I am, for certain. Lupin accepts himself for what he is and makes no excuses for it. He has always treated me with respect. During the darkest of times, right before the downfall of Voldemort, he was the one person who did not doubt my allegiance to the Order. There are times I would like to muzzle the werewolf, but he is the closest thing to a friend that I have, so I shall resist the urge.
Then of course, there is me. Severus Snape. Reviled Potions Master. Professor at Hogwarts. Former Death Eater. Former spy for the Order of the Phoenix. Former bitter and useless man. I was empty. Until she revealed herself to me. She somehow broke through my walls and became as necessary to me as breathing. She looked past the less than savory exterior and saw something no one else did. She saw the man. And she awoke the heart within the man. In all of my life I had never uttered the words “I love you”, until I almost lost her. I’m not sure where it went wrong, really, but my plan to die alone seems to have been waylaid. I do not wish to die. And if I do, I do not wish to die alone.