His mind echoed the dreaded words he uttered from his mouth, and tears brimmed in his eyes. The words had given him constant nightmares ever since he committed the worst sin of all; betrayal.
The Killing Curse which took Albus Dumbledore’s life.
He still couldn’t believe he agreed to follow through with it, especially to a friend who had saved him from a fate worse than death on so many occasions, even if the old Headmaster of Hogwarts planned it.
He looked over at Draco Malfoy who was sleeping on the frosty ground within the Forbidden Forest. He sighed, turning his gaze back to the glowing fire. He didn’t like the fact Draco was mixed up in everything which happened. There was no way Draco could have killed Dumbledore even though he knew if he didn’t, his mother’s life was in danger, including his own. The boy was not yet a man; no one should ever have expected him to perpetrate his mission at such a young age.
Snape agreed to the oath with Narcissa for this reason. He wanted to protect Draco. Now Snape expected the Dark Lord was hunting the boy down for failing his mission. It would be just like the Dark Lord to order Lucius to kill him, which he would proudly agree to do for his beloved Lord.
To this day, he remembered the dread Draco had in his eyes the night Lucius told him of the assignment set to him by the Dark Lord. The boy agreed, wanting to prove himself and feel like he was imperative to the Dark Lord.
He watched the young wizard from afar for Narcissa, making sure nothing happened to him. As the weeks and months passed, the dread grew within the boy’s eyes. Draco was under so much pressure from the Dark Lord and his Father that he slowly slipped into a state of madness. His mission, the task of killing Dumbledore, plagued his mind.
When Potter attacked him in the abandoned second-floor bathroom, the Potions Master feared he broke the oath and would die for it. When this never happened, Snape felt relief and kept a closer eye on him, but Draco never recovered from this blow. When the time came for him to kill Dumbledore, Snape believed the boy almost lost his mind completely. There was no way he could have understood why the Headmaster was smiling even though he was about to die.
Snape remembered the day Voldemort gave Draco the task of killing Dumbledore like it was yesterday. He felt it was his obligation to go straight to the Headmaster, telling him everything he knew, but he could have hit himself for not seeing the signs sooner. Dumbledore had something on his mind, weighing him down, and disheartening him. He looked his age for once, but Snape was too preoccupied with the subject of Draco’s protection. He failed to notice the frailty beginning to take form in his old friend.
A few weeks later, Dumbledore told him he needed help with something important and summoned him to his office. He closed his eyes, remembering the reason he ended up killing the old Headmaster.
Snape walked through the oak door without knocking or waiting to be invited in. He was rather irritated at the Headmaster for summoning him at such a late hour. When Snape came to stand in front of the anxious Headmaster, his irritation softened to curiosity. He had never seen Dumbledore look as much his age as he did now. The sight frightened the Potions Professor, and he sat down to wait for Dumbledore to speak. When nothing came from the old man, his impatience got the better of him. ‘What is wrong, Headmaster?’ he asked, his voice a little sharper than he intended it to be.
Dumbledore finally raised his head, looking at Snape. The Potions Master was stunned to see tears brimming in the old man’s eyes. He had never seen Dumbledore even close to crying, not even when someone mentioned his sister. ‘There’s something I need to do, Severus, but I am reluctant to follow through with it.’ He placed his head in his hands, a move Snape had never seen Dumbledore do in all the years he had known him.
′What do you need to do?′ he asked.
′I am needed back in my own time, Severus,′ Dumbledore stated, looking at the Potions Professor.
′Your own time? What are you talking about, Headmaster?′ Snape asked.
′I am a Time Traveler from the Third Age. I need to die so that I can return to my time,′ he paused with a sigh, looking out the window. ‘I need you to kill me,’ Dumbledore answered, looking back at Snape.
Snape’s eyes widened in disbelief. ′Kill you? Why would you ask such a thing from me? And what is this Third Age? I don’t understand. Why would you leave the Order at such a dark time when we need you now most of all?′ The questions spilt out in rapid progression and Dumbledore held up a hand to stop him.
′The Third Age is the time I am from, Severus. The year was 3019. My real name is Gandalf the Grey and, as a Time Traveler, I experimented with this power. I came to the future where I met Gellert Grindelwald and befriended him. I liked being here in this period, so I stayed, never returning since. I almost forgot about where I was from until a short while ago. I felt a summoning for me to return, and I must go back now because war is about to begin. A war with a Dark Lord of my time and a Ring he forged. If you kill me, I won’t die, I will resurrect in my own time. You should no need to feel guilty for having done it,′ Dumbledore paused, letting what he said sink in. He continued, ‘I hate leaving the Order at such a dire time, Severus. If the summons to return wasn’t so strong, I would stay. I need to meet with the Head of my Order, Saruman the White,’ Dumbledore explained.
′Why do I have to do it though?′ Snape asked him furiously. ‘Why can’t someone else do it?’
′Because I trust you more than most and you’re still an acting Death Eater. If anyone else from the Order were to do it, the results could be disastrous and the trust within would die. I hate to ask this of you, but I need your help,′ Dumbledore almost pleaded.
′Isn’t there any other way?′ Severus asked, trying to get out of this situation.
′I’m afraid not. We can’t have Mr Malfoy completing his mission. You have made an oath with Narcissa to keep him out of harm’s way and not to let him do it. I need you to do it, Severus. Please,′ he answered.
Severus was desperately thinking of a way out of this. ‘What about a spell? There has to be one to send you back,’ he stated, thinking this could sway Dumbledore. He didn’t want to carry out the old man’s death.
Dumbledore smiled bitterly. ‘There is a spell, but it would seem heartless if I vanished. I need the Wizarding World to know and see I am dead. I do not intend to return to this time, Severus.’ Dumbledore stood, walking over to Fawkes, and stroking his beautiful back. Fawkes let out a melodic cry in return.
′I understand,′ Snape answered uncertainly.
Dumbledore sighed, stroking Fawkes’ front. The bird lifted his head up, and he ran his hand from the bird’s chin to his chest. He stopped, walking over to look out the window at the darkening sky. Fawkes flew over, alighting on his shoulder to show his Master what comfort he could. ‘I do not believe we can win this war,’ Dumbledore whispered without turning to look at Snape.
Snape frowned, his words registering in his mind. ‘Why don’t you think we can win?’ he asked in shock.
′Voldemort’s army is increasing rapidly, and we are losing many to the cause every day. It would be suicide to attack him, and if he attacks us, we do not have a large enough force to fend him off. Harry is not ready to fight him, Severus. He is far too young to deal with this now. There is no hope if we do it that way,′ Dumbledore answered.
′So, you would flee? Abandon us in our time of need? I never knew you were a coward, Dumbledore,′ Snape said insensitively.
′I am not fleeing or abandoning anyone, Severus! I have a plan which may ensure our victory against him!′ Dumbledore shouted back heatedly.
Dumbledore’s outburst staggered Snape, but he recovered after a moment. ‘What’s this plan?’ he asked him with a frown.
Dumbledore walked back to his desk, picking up an envelope. There was nothing written on the front, but he could make out the Hogwarts seal on the back. ‘This is a letter I wrote to Miss Granger and Mr Potter explaining everything to them. She and Harry are the only ones who can save us, albeit inadvertently.’ With that, he handed the letter to the surprised Potions Master.
′How so? And what of Mr Weasley?′ he asked, taking the letter. Snape ran his hand over the wax seal.
′Hermione is a powerful person, Severus, and I believe she is a descendant of Wood-Elves. She wears a pendant which was around in my time which gets passed down to the oldest girl by the Elven family it belonged to,′ Dumbledore explained. He sighed, continuing, ‘Voldemort is looking for her, and we can’t let him have her. She is far too powerful to be on his side. It would be a catastrophe,’ he stressed. Snape nodded with a frown, and Dumbledore continued, ’I think Harry is a descendant of the Kings of Gondor. He received a ring a few years ago, passed down to the eldest son since Isildur was King. If this is the case, Harry is just as powerful as Hermione. It would be terrible if Voldemort ever found out about it. I know of someone who can help them tap into the power in my time,′ he explained, and Snape nodded in understanding. ‘Mr. Weasley will not be joining them. He is going to be needed here as I am leaving him in charge of the Order. Ronald is a brilliant strategist; I know this for a fact. He will be an asset to the Order,’ he paused. Snape looked doubtful at this statement but trusted Dumbledore’s judgement. He nodded in understanding. Dumbledore walked back to the window. ‘I need you to give them the letter after I am dead. They will trust you once you have explained what has happened. Have faith and believe in me, Severus.’ He turned, giving the Professor a sad smile. Snape gave him a half-hearted smile back, which was more like a slight twitch of his lips.
′When do you want me to do it?′ Snape asked quietly, referring to the dreaded time he would have to kill his Mentor and friend.
Dumbledore sighed in relief. ‘When Mr Malfoy threatens to kill me, I want you to do it then.’
Snape nodded, standing up. Then without another word, he pocketed the letter and left the room.
Snape reached into his cloak pocket, pulling out the crumpled letter he had held for many months. He never tried opening it, believing only Potter or Granger could open it. He looked up when Draco stirred, rolling over without waking.
Severus looked up towards the sky.The Death Eaters attacked Hogsmeade earlier in the night, and the smoke and flames from the village had turned it red. He sighed, placing the letter back into his pocket and looked back at the fire.
The war had started, and tomorrow night, the Dark Lord was going to attack Hogwarts. The final battle was upon the Wizarding World.
A single tear rolled down his cheek, falling to the ground.