let's say snape did ask voldemort to spare harry potter, and, by some miracle, doesn't get cursed on the spot. what then?
"The one with the power to vanquish the Dark Lord approaches..." the hag hisses in Severus' memories, dragged to the forefront of his mind by the Dark Lord's consuming, imposing power. "Born to those who have thrice defied him, born as the seventh month dies..."
He stumbles backward as the Dark Lord releases him, jabs a heel into the ground to force his body into stillness. The contact is good, grounding. He is here for a purpose, and he will not make a fool of himself before the Dark Lord.
"I know of the prophecy already, Severus," the Dark Lord says, patiently. Indulgently, really, and it is glorious. To be treated with this level of respect by the Dark Lord himself... Mulciber must be eating his hat, and Potter, Black and their little pets rolling in the graves that surely awaited them. "Your having delivered it to me is the reason I have deigned to offer you both my Mark and your choice of reward."
"Of course, my Lord," Severus says, "and I thank you for both."
He flexes his arm at his side, already branded by skull and snake, half scabbed-over, before bending at the waist in a deep bow.
"Rise," the Dark Lord tells him, and Severus catches the amusement in his tone. "Lucius tells me you have great potential, and I believe you will be... most useful to me."
"Thank you, my Lord," Severus says, reverently, and squashes any further daydreams of spitting on pureblood ponces and grinding headstones beneath his boots. He needs to be clear-headed for this. He hardly presumes to be indispensable, but the Dark Lord has named him useful, has promised him a reward. This opportunity, this sort of power, the sort of respect that he would be able to command as one of the Dark Lord's trusted and used... it cannot—must not—be squandered.
"Have you chosen, Severus? Money, glory? Women, perhaps... no. You look above such things, do you not?" The Dark Lord's face twisted at that, a fleeting smirk setting itself across his unsettling features. "Ah. Knowledge is what tempts you... yes. Unadulterated, uncensored knowledge. You could have the contents of the most coveted Dark Arts libraries in your hands. Power the likes of which most people could never dream of. What will you ask of me, Severus?"
His tongue itches to answer, but the Dark Lord continues.
"I do not make a habit of granting requests such as these. Your brethren who have earned the privilege have asked for banal, plebian things or they have pandered to me with silly trinkets and petty refusals. Will you follow in their footsteps? What will you ask of me, Severus?"
The Dark Lord lowers his gaze, ever-so-gentle, presses into Severus' mind once more. A smile flits across his face as he skims through each layer of thought, memory and consciousness, tugging and pulling as he chooses. He snags something, holds tight to it, and Severus is overcome by pure, blinding rage as his life, shown in flashes of humiliation, pain, anger, anger, embarrassment, injustice, so much anger, plays out before him.
"Revenge. Yes, that must be it. You want them to pay for what they've done," the Dark Lord. "That filthy Muggle father of yours, those disgusting blood traitors, yes, all of them will pay. Is that what you would ask of me, Severus?"
The Dark Lord holds his mind in a vice grip, tight, harsh, painful. Had it been a physical hold, Severus would no doubt have been nearly to his knees at this point, gasping for air, begging and prodding at his Lord's arms to allow him to go free. It is entirely within his own mind, however, and with regards to Occlumency, Severus is particularly resilient. As the Dark Lord pries and clutches, his eerie red gaze fixed on Severus' own black stare, he calls to his mouth the words he will answer with, but is silenced before he can speak them.
"No. Their blood would be wasted on you. I could make you—no. No matter," the Dark Lord says, releasing him once more with all the gentleness of a hard shove. "This, you may consider a gift. I will impart to you a secret, Severus, for you have granted me the information which makes this particular endeavour possible. I am going to Godric's Hollow tonight, and I will destroy the creature that Albus Dumbledore presumes will vanquish me."
"Silence, Severus. This to to your benefit, you understand. The child must die, of course, but that filthy blood traitor Potter—I will kill him, and through me, you may have your revenge, and thus, you will be free to ask for what else your heart desires."
His head spins, and the Dark Lord cares not, fixing him with a burning red gaze that grows ever impatient.
"What will you ask of me, Severus?"
He can think of a million things he wants, a thousand things that would catapult him into the life he wanted, without having to claw his up from beneath everyone else's feet.
Power, for one. Respect, esteem, the Dark Lord's favour.
He could ask for any of them, he knows which of them he would choose.
The memories crowd his mind, though, unbidden, shaken free by the Dark Lord's rough handling of his innermost thoughts, his mentioning of Godric's Hollow. He doesn't even need to close his eyes to see her. Lily, laying on the grass beside him. Lily, sitting next to him in the Library, laughing over something or other as they breeze through their Potions homework. Lily, turning him away at the entrance to the Gryffindor Common Room. Lily, turning her back on him for James fucking Potter and his band of assholes.
Another thought chases them, even more unwanted and unexpected than its predecessors—Lily, body broken and cold, dead on the floor of her home between her husband and child, because of course, of course, she would throw herself between her family—James bloody Potter and his fucking spawn—and the Dark Lord himself.
He cannot ask for her life.
It would be madness. Folly. An impossible request that would follow him for the rest of his time in the Dark Lord's service. He will not squander this opportunity, he will not ruin this for himself as so many things have been ruined before, he will not lose his only chance—
The Dark Lord looks at him, and Severus anticipates the rustling, the grip of thought on his mind and quickly, quietly buries it all, as he blurts, "Lily."
Severus Snape is a fool.
The Dark Lord knows this now. He must.
"You desire... the girl?" the Dark Lord asks.
Severus must be an imbecile. A thrice-damned, hellbound, cotton-brained dunderhead.
"Very well," the Dark Lord muses. "It would be a fitting addition to your revenge. From what I have been told, she was your Mudblood first, was she not?"
Severus nods, mute.
Never. Not really.
"I shall spare her life, and you will have her."
"Thank you, my Lord," Severus rasps, the words bubbling up through a dry, dusty throat, and automatically falls into a bow. He is a fool. "You are too kind."
"Kind..." the Dark Lord rolls the word around his mouth, and spits it as though it is particularly vile. "Hardly. It is only what you deserve."
"Thank you, my Lord." Severus says, and turns to leave.
"You were not dismissed, Severus," he says, and Severus turns back, immediately.
"No matter, and straighten up. Tell me, Severus. You think me kind?"
He swallows. "My lord is most generous—"
The Dark Lord stops him, regards him with what little humanity remains in his gaze. Laughs.
Severus stiffens, the hairs on the back of his neck raising at the grating sound.
"Join me. Tonight. You will further prove your usefulness, and kill James Potter yourself. I will spare your precious Mudblood her life."
His stomach rolls in protest at the thought, conflicting thoughts flying through his mind, a cacophony of "She already thinks the worst of you," playing against a backdrop of Lily Potter cradling the bodies of her dead husband and son. Guilt wells up in his throat, swimming up his oesophagus just the same as bile, and he says, "Yes, my lord. Thank you, my Lord."
Petty refusal, the Dark Lord had said, but such was never an option. Severus had sold his soul, and the devil does not bargain. In exchange for Lily Potter's life, he must kill her husband and give up any hope of ever being a good man in her eyes, and the Dark Lord knows it.
Kind, Severus had said. A foolish notion.
They enter Godric's Hollow that night with a bang. Quite literally. The Dark Lord laughs in the face of their wards, and Severus surveys them with pity, and mild disgust. Were they meant to be found? Then, the Dark Lord crows about having their Secret Keeper under his thumb, and the Potters' lack of security becomes an afterthought to betrayal and lies and a sick sense of satisfaction that the Marauders had fallen apart, after all.
The Dark Lord gestures, and even through the smoke, Severus' aim is impeccable. His wand arm raises, and hatred is on his tongue, propelled by years of humiliation and pain, the memories of hanging pantsless above the Black Lake and watching Lily Evans on James Potter's arm, and then, dragging up truly Unforgivable magic behind them. He's already mouthing the Avada behind his mask when the green light floods the room and the Dark Lord finishes Severus' sentence for him.
James Potter's body drops to the ground and as Severus sees the Dark Lord standing triumphant, wand held high, he knows that Potter was never his to kill. The Dark Lord gave, and the Dark Lord took away. Generosity? A pathetic trait to attribute to him.
"Stand aside, girl," he rasps, and Severus' neck jerks. Lily stands between them and the crib, tears already welling in her eyes as she looks frantically between them and James fucking Potter.
The vision plays behind his eyes again, Lily, sobbing, crying, bereft.
Her husband has died and she will not stand aside. Severus knows it. If it will save her son's life, she will sacrifice herself over and over again.
"Stand aside," the Dark Lord commands, again, and he raises his wand to kill her, if not to toss her aside and Severus, because he is a fucking fool, who cannot stand to watch the girl who was once his best friend die, interrupts.
"The child, my Lord," he rasps, and hopes in his heart that if he does not succeed in convincing his master that they are both deserving of life, she will take the brat and run.
"It must die!" the Dark Lord screams, and Lily does not run, she scrambles to the crib, clutches the child to her breast.
"It has power—" he tries, but the Dark Lord will not be reasoned with.
"To vanquish me! It is—" the Dark Lord hisses, wand raised.
"A weapon!" Severus cries, and damns the boy as he has damned himself. "To use against Dumbledore, if he has power to vanquish you, he can be used against—"
It is this that gets through to him, but he does not lower his wand. He flicks it, deliberately, as harshly as he does anything and the child comes speeding into his arms, wailing ever louder. Lily dashes after him, but a deliberate swish of the Dark Lord's wand sends her careening into Severus instead.
He looks into the brat's face, and Severus' breath catches in his throat as twin emerald gazes announce their upset.
Lily's is trained on him as she struggles in his grip, and he needs her to stop, stop fighting, stop kicking, stop making herself a fucking target, so he says, quickly, quietly, harshly, "He'll kill you both if you don't stop."
The baby stares defiantly at the Dark Lord, wailing and screaming as much as he dares. He lowers his wand. Lily stops struggling.
"Yes. You... you can be used. Dumbledore believes that you will be my downfall... but not if you are raised under my hand."
He laughs again, and the sound nearly sets Lily to fighting afresh. Severus clutches her tighter, and the Dark Lord turns to look at him again. "Come."
for my Prongsfoot Propaganda™️ i’m gonna break up this one shot i’ve been working on into snippets (mainly bc i’ve only got half of it down and i’m hoping this motivates me for more) it’s james learning how to love & comfort at his mothers knee and habits passing down through generations, even if they sometimes have to take a step to the left.
Darling, pt. 1.
Sirius stuffed his fist in his mouth, uncaring of the fact he almost choked himself in his haste. That would still be better than- than this…breaking down on his bed at this ungodly hour. As if it wasn’t bad enough, he had to worry about waking one of his dorm mates up as well. Sirius had had enough time to memorise their sleeping patterns—none of them woke up easily once they’d gone down for the night, but that didn’t mean he wanted to tempt fate.
He was so focused on keeping his eyes squeezed shut and stifling any sound from escaping his four poster that he didn’t even notice when the curtains shifted aside, weight dipping one side of his mattress.
“Wh—“ Sirius gasped, jerking backward in surprise, hitting his head against the pole in the process. “What are you—“
James Potter, dressed in pyjamas with little snitches on them, blinking at him with large eyes. His glasses were probably lying under his bed, somewhere—Sirius would know, he was the poor sod roped into looking for them every morning when James inevitably realised he’d misplaced them and couldn’t find them without visual aid.
Right now, though, he wasn’t in the mood to make fun of his absent-mindedness and geriatric spirit. No, Sirius was much more concerned with what James was doing here, in his bed, when he should be sleeping in his own on the other side of the room.
“I…erm…I got up for the loo and I heard-,” James cut himself off, uncharacteristically hesitant.
“No, you didn’t,” Sirius responded, as if on instinct. He couldn’t have—Surely, he didn’t—They barely knew each other, what would he think?
“I got you my blankie,” James said, completely randomly.
“My blankie.” He pulled a worn but clearly well loved blanket from behind him—somehow Sirius had completely skipped over that. It was light blue, looked like it was made from the softest material on Earth, and gave off such a—comforting aura that, for a wild second, Sirius suspected some form of Compulsion charm. Fortunately, before that thought could tumble out of his mouth, he remembered they were First Years and James came from a highly reputed Light family. They were definitely not going to send their child to Hogwarts with a borderline illegal spell tacked onto his garments.
“I have so many questions right now.”
“That makes the two of us.”
Sirius ignored that. “First of all, what is a blankie and how is it different from a blanket—“
“Are you telling me you’ve never had one?”
“—And second, why did you bring it here? For that matter, what are you doing here?”
“No, okay, stop, wait, go back,” James raised his hands, eyes squinting. “Can we go back to the part where you said you didn’t know what a blankie was?”
“I know what blankets are,” Sirius said, slightly offended at his tone of surprise.
“Yes- and this is a blankie,” came the slightly impatient reply, “I just told you that.”
“And I just told you I don’t know what those are.”
Sirius was—baffled. Not two minutes ago, he’d been trying to cry in peace without attracting any attention, the letter from his mother seared into his brain, playing on loop every time he so much as blinked. He’d been scared, and angry, and not knowing where he fit in- if he fit in anywhere.
He’d been at Hogwarts for a few weeks and nothing seemed to be looking up for him.
And now, James Potter, human whirlwind, was sitting on his bed, rearranging his pillows, and offering him—what, exactly?
“Comfort,” he offered, almost as if Sirius had said his thoughts out loud. “Blankies are the ultimate form of comfort and I don’t want to know what it means that you don’t have one.”
“How’d you know I don’t have one?” Sirius asked, just to be contrary.
“You’d know what it was then, wouldn’t you?”
He didn’t have an answer to that.
“Right, budge over then,” James said as he tried to wriggle in beside Sirius, moving this way and that, like he owned the entire place.
“Ye-OW,” Sirius suddenly yelped, feeling a bony elbow knock into his side. “Watch where you put those things. Merlin and Morgana.”
“Merlin and Morgana,” James mocked in a high pitched tone, but finally for the sake of Sirius’ ribs, seemed to settle down. He carefully—as if it was spun with Faerie Silk—unfolded the blanki—blanket and draped it over their legs, fiddling and adjusting until it was tucked in on both sides and under their feet.
“There,” he announced, supremely satisfied look on his face.
Sirius, for his part, really didn’t know what to do—or say. The tears on his cheeks still hadn’t fully dried, his eyes were puffy and probably red-rimmed, and the gaping ache in his chest had…lessened?
He frowned, he hadn’t even been able to properly breathe a few minutes ago and now he was…okay? Well. Maybe not okay, but definitely not hyperventilating.
“I’ve had this since I was a kid,” James spoke up, “Our elf Rani made it for me, and it’s one of the most precious things I own.”
“Why are you throwing it over me then?” Sirius asked, mulishly, still half stuck on the fact that he hadn’t thrown this boy out of his bed the second he’d entered with his stupid grin.
“You looked like you needed it.”
Sirius turned to stare at James, incredulous.
“Look.” The other boy held his palms up defensively. “Tell me you’re not feeling better and I’ll take my blankie and leave, I swear. But, my mum always told me that no one should ever be alone when they’re sad. So even if we sit here in silence, or you fall asleep on top of me, or we talk til Charms tomorrow, I’d like to be here. Please.”
Maybe it was the guileless way his brown eyes—larger and more intense without the ghastly glasses—looked at Sirius, maybe it was the sincerity dripping off every single word, or maybe it was the please tacked on at the end.
Maybe he really didn’t want to be alone.
Whatever it was, Sirius found himself shifting in closer, burrowing deeper into the soft embrace of the blanket. James’ entire right side was pressed tightly, comfortingly, along his left.
“Thank you,” he whispered, low enough that both of them could pretend he didn’t say anything.
But when had James Potter ever pretended?
“I’ll take care of you, darling, don’t you worry.”
And though the word fell awkwardly from his lips, like he was channelling someone else in that moment and his mouth didn’t quite know how to make the sound, Sirius found that he didn’t care. Not when he could feel the hurt in his heart slowly being replaced by comfort, gratitude spreading through his entire body, warming him from the inside out.
It was there, ungodly hour of the night, pressed against James Potter under his comfort blankie, that Sirius finally felt like he fit in. That this might not be so bad.