Disclaimer: The characters, the universe, everything is J. K. Rowling’s. I’m just borrowing for a bit because I’m a hopeless believer in redemption and that Dumbledore was not wrong.
Spoiler: Set after Half-Blood Prince
I did it. I’m not pleased that I had to. I never wanted to. I had asked him, no pleaded with him, to not make me do it. He had been adamant that it had to be done and that it had to be me. He told me his reasons. They were good reasons, but I still did not think I could do it. Even now it hurts to think about it.
I knew of the Dark Lord’s plan. I did not think it would work. I did not think Malfoy had the strength of will. Neither did his mother, and that’s why she pleaded with me to do it if her son could not. Unfortunately, she brought her sister. While Bella and I may have been close at one point, she never forgave me for not joining her and the other “true followers” in Azkaban. She has always been blinded to the harsh realities. Subtlety has never been a strong point for her. Those of us that had remained free brought the Dark Lord money, political information, things he never would have had if we had been imprisoned.
I was not surprised when Narcissa asked me for an Unbreakable Vow. She has always been very protective of Draco. However, I had not expected her to ask me to carry out the task if Draco could not. The Dark Lord had made it clear that through completing the task, Draco could restore honor to the Malfoy name. My interference could ruin that, but she didn’t seem to care. I had no choice but to agree, knowing this task would tear me apart inside. Of course, the Dark Lord had already ordered me to complete the task if Draco could not, but he had never extracted an Unbreakable Vow from me.
Before the start of term, I told the old man what to expect… How strange? I find I cannot even write his name. I have not been able to speak it since that night… He was unsurprised. He always knew that the Dark Lord saw him as a threat and that for Dark Lord to complete his ascension to power, he would have to die. By this point, the curse on the Horcrux ring had already weakened him. I had examined the wound, but there was nothing more I could do for him. It pained me to be so helpless.
I digress. He made plans for the painful eventuality. He reiterated to me that his life was not important. It was Potter that must be protected at all cost. I had always known this and had spent the last five years diligently protecting Potter. The boy, no, no longer a boy, but a young man, though he seems unworthy of that title, has always been reckless and impetuous. I would almost believe that he thinks himself immortal.
When I told him the details of the Unbreakable Vow, he almost seemed pleased. I did not understand it at the time. I have now come to realize why. He knew that Draco’s mother loved him. This is the one emotion the Dark Lord cannot abide. He used that love to save Draco. The young man’s soul is still pure, at least for now. Mine is already torn and tattered from the atrocities of my past. He told me that I must be the one to carry out the mission, that Draco must remain unspoiled.
I argued with him. How could I do what he asked of me? He was the one man in my entire life that had placed faith and trust in me. How could I betray that trust? He told me that I wouldn’t be betraying it. I was the one that had to do this. By doing this, I would cement my place at the Dark Lord’s side. I would be able to facilitate the Dark Lord’s demise. Without this, there would be those Death Eaters that would continue to question my loyalty. But, by doing so, I would lose everything.
But that doesn’t really matter; my life is inconsequential. I should have died years ago. I should have gone to Azkaban with the others. If not for a kindly old man who saw the last tiny shred of humanity in me, I would have. This was a horrible way to repay him for what he did for me over the last two decades. Perhaps losing everything will be repayment enough for what I have done? Probably not.
Several times throughout the year I tried to get him to change his mind. He refused. Even when I insisted that I could not, he insisted I must honor my agreement. I believed his life more important than mine, but he disagreed. Even now, I think it was a poor trade.
Now comes the hard part, the part I have dreaded most. I write this here in the hopes, that one day, someone will read it and believe. My life is forfeit, it always has been. There is no need to clear my name, there is no one left to care. My parents are long dead, though my father’s death was not a great loss to civilization. I do this for my soul, what little remains of it. In all likelihood, no one will believe what I have written, but that matters not.
Filius came to my office that fateful night. I knew he would want to help, but I could not risk any more of my colleagues, and knocked him out. I found the meddling Granger and Lovegood outside my office and sent them in to help Filius. Two more I had saved.
I ran through the corridors to the Astronomy Tower, knowing that I could not show my true colors… What are they anymore? It can be so hard to remember… I knew the time had come. I must do what I had dreaded. Would I be able to do it? Could I trust Dumbledore that Potter is the key and that Potter alone must survive? I must. After all, he trusted me with the most vital of tasks, even if no one else would understand my motives.
My colleagues believed I was on their side and let me pass unhindered. Of course they did. They did not know what I was about to do. When I arrived in the open air, I saw that it was as the old man predicted, Draco had been unable to complete the mission. The old man had appealed to the tiny spark of humanity Draco got from his mother, as I later learned. I found myself wishing the boy had done as the old man had asked. He would have been safe; he would have redeemed his family. Even so, it would not have stopped me from carrying out my gruesome task.
The others deferred to me; they knew my status with the Dark Lord. Greyback was the only one of them smart enough to think he might be my equal, but he was also smart enough not to challenge me as long as I remained loyal.
The old man looked at me and called my name. I heard more than my name in those words, “You know what must be done.” I hesitated. Yes, I knew what must be done. He had told me, in detail why, but it was still hard. “I cannot!” Stalling for time, I shoved Malfoy out of the way. As I had hoped, the boy had been unable to carry through. The old man had gotten to him.
I finally turned to face him. The others thought he was weak for pleading with me, but I could clearly see that he was already dying and this would be an act of mercy. Again, his eyes said more than his words. “This is the only way.” I fought my conflicting emotions and the power of the Unbreakable Vow. “You are like a father to me.”
One last time, he pleaded with me. The others were getting restless and surely suspected that I might not be a loyal Death Eater, after all. I had seen the second broom. I knew that Potter was there; that Potter would witness this. I already knew he would be the one. It was necessary to have a witness, someone to report that I was the one to do this. One last time, I looked into the old man’s eyes. “I have already forgiven you, Severus. You must do this in order to save them all.”
His words pained me. I hated him for making me do this. A part of me still hates him. He saved my soul, and then he commanded me to kill him. How could he forgive me? We both knew that with this act there would no longer be any doubt among the Dark Lord’s followers that I was loyal. I flourished my wand and cast the curse that would end not one, but two lives.
I knew that Potter must be screaming inside, but there was no time to waste. The plan was set in motion, and I alone knew the steps necessary for it to succeed. He had saved Draco and now I must keep the boy alive. Though, I do not know that it will matter. Draco failed the Dark Lord, and he has never been very tolerant of failure. But I gave my word to save as many as I could. I gathered the survivors and we fled the castle.
I know I will likely never return to the place I called home for so long, but it matters not. I do not expect to survive the war and I will not need my possessions. Perhaps some of them will prove useful to the Order.
I heard Potter following; I knew he would. He never trusted me, and why should he? I had carefully crafted it over the years so that he would not trust me. No one must know that I acted under the old man’s orders. If any of them were captured, the Dark Lord would learn that I am not really his man.
I wished that Potter had been detained, that he had not caught up with us. He must survive, but I could not make it look like I let him survive. He drew close enough that his attacks might have been effective. I stopped to fight him, to give the others time to escape, to ensure that they didn’t kill him. In this case, his impetuousness helped me. I could see what he was going to do before he could cast a single spell.
Then he had the nerve to attempt to cast one of my spells. My spells that I had toiled long hours over, the spells that were to define me before I decided to join with the Dark Lord. The spells that Potter, the elder, and his gang had stolen from me. No, I could not let him do that. I knew he had been in possession of my old Potions book, after all, that had all been carefully orchestrated. When he cast Sectumsemprus on Malfoy, I knew that he had been studying it for more than Potions, as the old man had hoped.
I know he has that book hidden somewhere. I only hope that he will be smart enough to use it. Of course, since I did lose my temper and reveal that it was my book, he may not. It’s not something he may decide on his own, but that know-it-all Granger has a keen analytic mind and will hopefully point out the value that book has. Of course, none of them trust me now. Why should they think the book has any value? Hopefully, he has learned enough from it already.
I delayed Potter long enough for the others to escape and prevented the fool from doing something he would regret. I believe he hates me enough now that he would have succeeded in casting an Unforgivable, since the old man was like a father to him as well. That beastly hippogriff drove me away, but it was no match for me and I quickly joined my fellow Death Eaters.
Now, I am left alone with my thoughts. The old man believed in me. That is that thought that keeps me going. Without that, I would have no purpose. Someday, I hope the others will learn the truth. For now, I’m sure they think the old man died because he had misplaced his trust in me. Of course, that’s what they are meant to think. All I can do is wait. I will gather the information that I was sent for. When the time is right, I will pass it on and hope that the old man’s trust in Potter has not been misplaced. I hope that any traits he inherited from his mother will overcome those he received from his father.
For myself, I do not seek redemption. I know that I have achieved it, as did the old man. That is all that matters to me.
My master is calling and I must hide this confession.
Remember, Dumbledore was right.