Subtle yet strong, less overt compulsion than enhancement—the rekindling of an existing flame. This was no Dark lust potion; he preferred to think of it as… mere reinforcement. It was necessary to guarantee the boy's unwavering dedication, and was therefore justifiable.
Administering it had proved challenging at first, admittedly. The boy was wary and suspicious as a beaten, battle-scarred alley cat, after all, and it had to be admitted that he possessed more aptitude for Potions than most.
But not more than a wizard who'd worked with Flamel.
The annual dose was best dispensed, Albus discovered, with whisky and sympathy.
Painful anniversaries drove even prickly creatures to crave comfort; thus, each Halloween found Severus in Albus's office, accepting an indulgent glass of Old Ogden's, gulped with grudging but genuine gratitude.
Severus never had trusted the right people to mind his best interests, Albus reflected.
He knew when it worked, every time—the sorrow in those dark eyes sharpened, the desperate devotion renewed—and occasionally felt a twinge of—something, watching those thin shoulders slump under their redoubled burden.
Pragmatism soothed him. The greater good was served, naturally—and love would conquer all.