"It is far better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all."
I took a momentary look at my pallid reflection in the glass vase. My face was out of shape and distorted due to the curved, highly polished edge. This amused me slightly for a moment.
"Merlin," I muttered more to myself than to the other people assembled in the room. "Harry was spot on, I am an hideous git."
But I would certainly not permit anyone to hear me own up to the fact Harry Potter was correct about anything, particularly not something I'd given the boy a weeks worth of detentions for saying. My fleeting entertainment had washed away to leave only discontent because of my thoughts of Harry. The boy would be here in minute. He'd recollect my words to him the previous night and he'd find out. However much I hated to confess it, Harry was an exceptionally intelligent child…no, Harry wasn't a child anymore. He was in his final year, due to leave in a week's time. I couldn't believe it. At the risk of sounding clichéd, it had seemed like only yesterday when I first glimpsed Harry stepping through the entrance to the Great Hall-- when I'd first felt the overpowering desire to kill him there and then, a consequence of my ties with Voldemort…and a feeling fought for seven years. Harry just didn't understand--he had some idiotic notion that I intimidated him because of James. The reality was that I loathed most of the students' parents for the way they treated me at school… and yes, I did take it out on the pupils. But I singled Harry out for a separate intention. I was shielding him. However, it had come to the stage now where Harry will fight back, he would be present at detentions but would spend the entire time arguing with and tormenting me. Bringing up information from my past that I'd prefer remained unspoken. How Harry discovered these details I couldn't fathom, but after last night Harry Potter knew more about me than anyone else.
I sat reminiscing about the night and came to the conclusion that it was all Dumbledore's fault. It was a perfectly simple mistake to make--but Albus had pushed Harry too fiercely and too hastily…and if he hadn't made such a blunder, then maybe I wouldn't have found myself in these circumstances. They had all been there, everyone from the Order and many more. They'd all turned up to witness Voldemort's demise.
"Harry can't do this single-handedly," I observed. Albus smiled softly. I always got the impression that he wasn't in the same world as the rest of us.
"Look around you Severus," he told me. "Everyone here is supporting him, he's not alone."
I obeyed Dumbledore's suggestions and glanced around at the surrounding swarms of witches and wizards.
They were all shouting and encouraging Harry. In the distance I recognized the familiar red hair of the Weasly household, they took up a remarkably large portion of the crowd. I could just make out Ronald lifting his youngest sister up over his head. Emily Weasly would be coming up to Hogwarts before long, I thought. Yet another Head Girl no doubt. I felt sick looking around at all these innocent, smiling and unbelievably stupid faces. They all seemed to think that the Dark Lord was some sort of a joke, that the famous Harry Potter would have an easy time. They were all laughing and joking as if they were about to see a pantomime not a murder. I turned back to Dumbledore.
"What use are these people going to be against the Dark Lord? Harry may have been lucky before, but he knows nothing of the Dark Lord's power. I, for one, cannot just stand here and watch him be slaughtered." I turned my back on Dumbledore and made to find Harry and stop him making the worst mistake of his life. However, Dumbledore's grip on my arm prevented me from getting very far. He held me back, and let the mistake happen. I turned my head and saw his piercing blue eyes staring back at me.
"I know this is hard. You watched James die in the hands of Voldemort and now you fear that you'll have to witness Harry suffering the same fate." I cursed Dumbledore's understanding. All of this was true, of course. I was there in Godric's Hollow and I saw James Potter, the most popular boy in school, fall to his death. I was there and I did nothing out of blinding loyalty to my master and hatred of a schoolboy in my memories. The guilt I felt after that consumed every decent part of my heart that I'd saved from the Dark Lord's wrath….and I became engrossed with it when it wouldn't go away. That was when I met Albus Dumbledore the friend instead of Professor Dumbledore the headmaster.
Now I studied the old man's wrinkled face, trying to figure out which Dumbledore he was being that night. "I want to help him as much as you do," he told me sympathetically. "But I've let my emotions cloud my judgement before, and I'm not about to ruin this one chance of freedom. Have faith in him, Severus, he can do this."
Have faith in him, I reflected. What a joke. Dumbledore's faith had killed hundreds of people, and ruined the lives of many more. He'd left the wizarding world with a fallen hero who was no longer in a fit state to battle and held himself responsible for what had happened. I looked up as the door opened and saw Professor Dumbledore entering the room. Dressed in long, flowing, midnight blue robes with intricate designs he was the perfect figure of superiority. But behind the act I could see all the troubles of an old man. Looking close enough into his eyes, you would notice that famous twinkle fading out. I could see that his hope had vanished overnight.
All eyes in the room were upon him. Everyone wanted the usual advice and optimism that Albus Dumbledore brought in times of crisis. He scanned the room and his eyes rested on me--he knew. Potter must have told him. He averted his gaze and addressed the people assembled in the room.
"Harry Potter will be arriving shortly," he said, his voice no more than a whisper. Dumbledore moved over to where I was stood. A feeling of dread and panic flowed into me. He said nothing but simply surveyed my trembling character. We waited like that for a long time and I saw that he wanted me to speak the first word.
"How is Harry?" I asked him. He smiled sadly.
"Not well, Severus. The Healers were very much against me bringing him here today, but I feel it is necessary. There will be things that need to be explained. You saw him last night, how traumatised he was."
"That and more," I replied. So far Dumbledore hadn't mentioned anything out of the ordinary. Maybe he didn't know after all. Perhaps Harry Potter had kept my secret. Understand, I had felt the need to visit him after the battle. I don't know why, but I had wanted to see if I could comfort him.
Severus Snape trying to comfort Harry Potter, what a thought.