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The Man Who Lived



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Old January 22nd, 2008, 8:36 pm
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The Man Who Lived

Title: The Man Who Lived
Genre: Drama, AU
Rating: PG-13
Main characters: Severus, Harry, Kingsley

Disclaimer: These characters and this magical world are not mine but J.K. Rowling's, so all the credit and thanks goes to her.

I submitted this story for the snape_after_dh fest on Live Journal last autumn. It's also archived on my own LJ. The story needed some mild editorial tweaking in order to make it acceptable to the CoS fanfiction guidelines.




THE MAN WHO LIVED




Dreams. He was lost in a vortex of dreams.

Of course he dreamt of the snake, coiling in her starry cage and twisting towards him, fangs bared … he relived the split-second of his agony as Nagini bit into vein and tissue and his scream rent the air … then the dream shifted and scattered and broke apart as the curtains of another vision swung open to reveal Nagini’s severed head, bouncing absurdly in a ring of fire, and a boy’s hand grasping the ruby-encrusted hilt of a great silver sword … he saw Gryffindor rubies spilling like droplets of blood onto the great marble staircase of Hogwarts Castle and then there were emeralds falling from the broken hourglass of Slytherin House, like bright green eyes, a rain of emeralds falling on the heads of his students as they fled down the staircase towards him … Draco and Pansy and Blaise and Daphne, their faces filled with despair and panic, all of them crying, Professor Snape … Headmaster, sir, help us, please help us, tell us what to do ... and he was struggling towards them, trying to staunch the blood flowing from the terrible wound on his neck, trying to speak, trying to tell them to stand their ground, that it would be all right, he’d told Potter everything and Potter knew what to do … meanwhile all they had to do was stand … but there, at the very top of the staircase stood Tom Riddle, triumphant, his eyes scarlet slits, his face a mask of hatred, and coiled round his neck was Nagini … but then the vision changed again and it wasn’t Tom Riddle standing there, it was James Potter, and his hazel eyes were full of accusations … whose side are you on, Snivellus? Whose side are you on?

Once more the dream changed. There was no more screaming – no terrified teenagers running towards him in the entrance hall – no Riddle, no Death Eaters – no horrible certainty that he’d failed, that he hadn’t, after all, been able to tell Potter in time …

There was only Lily’s hand drifting in silky shadowed water as he rowed her down a sunlit river, willow fronds brushing his glossy black hair and her long red ponytail, and she was smiling at him, and the sunshine sparkled in her peridot eyes.


***


The rags of nightmares had blown away. Now he had become aware of physical pain, a deep ache in his neck, and it felt sharper, more real, as he felt himself drifting up from the bottom of the deep river of dreams where he had sunk.

“Severus,” someone was saying. “Severus …”

A woman’s voice. Lily’s? No. The voice was too old. Lily had been a young woman when she died …

His eyes drifted half-open. All around him were flames burning bright and smooth in a darkened room. A delicious scent reached his nostrils … a healing potion somewhere was giving off exquisite fumes.

He felt tired beyond belief and there was also that sharp pain in his neck. He tried to move his head sideways and immediately became aware that his throat was encased in a soft brace of bandages, with two large muslin cloths bound carefully to the lacerated tendons in the right side of his neck. Thin tubes in his neck were attached to a phial of Blood-Replenishing Potion hanging beside the bed.

“Severus … don’t try to move.”

The voice was Minerva’s, and she sounded very different from the last time she had spoken to him. He could remember that.

He tried to focus. His eyes opened fully on three figures standing by the white bed where he lay.

There was Minerva, her usually stern face nervous and anxious. Kingsley Shacklebolt stood impassively with his hands crossed in front of him, lightly clasping his wand. Harry Potter hovered at Minerva’s side, looking pale and troubled. He stared at Snape with Lily’s eyes. Snape, drowsy and disorientated, felt like telling the boy to stop looking at him like that with his mother’s eyes, but that would have sounded crazy, so he did not speak.

“My God, Severus,” said Kingsley, in his deep baritone voice. “You’re some kind of miracle, man.”

“Go and fetch Madam Pomfrey, Harry,” Minerva murmured to the boy. He melted away at once and Snape heard him running off and calling for Poppy.

“Harry’s told us everything,” said Kingsley, imperturbable as ever, his eyes fixed calmly on Snape’s face. “About you being a double agent for the Order. And here you are, having survived that damn snake. You’re one hell of a wizard, man, I’ll tell you that for free.”

Snape closed his eyes. Of course they knew how he’d managed to survive by now: they would have discovered the antivenin he’d secreted away in his robes. Obviously they’d found him in time before he’d lost too much blood, despite that horrendous neck wound.

And now they knew everything else too, thanks to the boy.

Not that he cared about that right now. He didn’t care about anything.

Minerva came forward and sat by his side. She patted his hand, somewhat awkwardly, as it lay inert on the linen bed sheet. He thought he had never seen her look so old: her face was pale and lined.

“It really is a miracle that you’re alive,” she said in a low voice, “and that you were found in time. It’s been touch and go.”

Snape tried to speak, but she said, quickly, “No, don’t. You’re not strong enough yet.”

He looked at her bleakly.

So, he was alive.

He rather wished he wasn’t.


***


Visitors.

All the students – those who had taken part in the battle and survived – had gone home, of course. But much of the teaching faculty remained for the summer and he had a fairly constant stream of visitors.

There was Horace. Wiping his face with a silk handkerchief and offering Snape a huge box of expensive liqueurs filled with Firewhiskey from Brussels.

“Severus, dear boy … we had no idea …you should have told us …”

“Of course I could do no such thing, Horace,” said Snape brusquely. “If I had confided in any of you during the last year, I’d have been signing your death sentences as well as mine.”

Minerva. She’d had tears in her eyes. “I’m so sorry, Severus. I’m so sorry I called you a coward.”

He nodded stiffly, and she seemed to understand.

Not only visitors: cards and flowers. Flowers, if you please, from Felicity Flimworth’s Floral Enchantments in Fleet, Hampshire. White irises and Arum lilies, silver ferns, emerald fairy-bells and witch-green aconite. Snape snorted with amusement: the colours of Slytherin, how frightfully tasteful. Who on earth had sent this? He took the card and read it.

To Professor Snape. Get well soon. Best regards from Harry P., Hermione J. Granger, N. Longbottom, Ginevra W. & Luna. Bafflingly, the latter had surrounded her spidery signature with strange doodles and a note saying “do be careful of any Nargles hiding in the buds.” At the bottom of the card, rather grudgingly, a smaller signature: Ron W.

Dear Merlin. Was it April Fool’s Day? This surely had to be the Granger girl’s idea. She must have threatened to hex her lumpish boyfriend if he didn’t sign. At least Potter’s little gang hadn’t had the nerve to sign it from Dumbledore’s Army.

There was another get-well card on his bedside table. A silver card, sprinkled with stars and miniature dragons, bordered by a green pattern of Celtic knot work. Dear Professor Snape, thank you. We never lost faith. Signed by Blaise Zabini, Daphne and Asteria Greengrass, Theo Nott and Tracey Davis.


***


Time passed in a summer haze. As the days lengthened, he occupied himself with perusing The Daily Prophet, brought daily to the school by a peck of enthusiastic owls. The papers made for entertaining reading, especially the back copies that Poppy Pomfrey had kept of those breathlessly worded first editions:

HE WHO CAN NOW BE NAMED SLAIN BY THE BOY WHO LIVED

OUR HERO HARRY!

DOWNFALL OF THE DARK LORD: WIZARDING BRITAIN CELEBRATES

BATTLE OF HOGWARTS: SPECIAL EDITION

ORDER OF MERLIN FIRST CLASS FOR THE PROPHECY BOYS

And, the icing on the cake:

THE TRUTH ABOUT SEVERUS SNAPE
A Daily Prophet Exclusive by Rita Skeeter

Oh, for Merlin’s sake … if that bloody Skeeter woman mentioned his feelings for Lily in this article, he would do what Voldemort had so signally failed to do and kill Harry Potter with his bare hands.

But it had been his choice to give Harry those particular memories and if the boy had died that night those secrets would have gone with him to the grave. Still, having survived Riddle’s Killing Curse for the second bloody time, Potter still hadn’t been able to restrain himself from boasting about Snape’s true motives and his love for Lily not only to Voldemort but also in front of the entire school. What was it the wretched boy had said? Snape turned back to page five in the 4th May edition to check the report again:

“Snape was Dumbledore’s, Dumbledore’s from the moment you started hunting down my mother.”

So he was Dumbledore’s man, was he, according to the boy who had been Albus’s unquestioning disciple?

“The hell with that!”

Viciously, he crumpled the paper up in a ball and threw it away from him as hard as he could. Poppy, who had just bustled into the hospital wing carrying a tray laden with healing ointments, was all consternation. She began fussing round him.

“Severus, please, you mustn’t over-excite yourself!”

“I’m fine, Poppy.” His lip curled. “I just overdosed on hero worship.”


***


He read the names in the lists of casualties obsessively, over and over again.

His mouth twisted bitterly as he read of the death of Vincent Crabbe. Imbecilic boy: having lumbered after Draco Malfoy like a spare part for seven years, he had finally taken his own initiative and got impaled on his own sword, so to speak, although the metaphor was grimly inaccurate. What an appalling way for the lad to die, in the flames of his own Fiendfyre.

Snape stared out of the hospital window. Only one Slytherin student dead – he supposed he should feel relieved. It was Gryffindor House which had lost the most pupils. No wonder Minerva looked so careworn. He would have to ask her what had been done – if anything – to retrieve whatever was left of Crabbe from the Room of Requirement and give the boy’s pitiful remains a decent burial. One would think, given Shacklebolt’s supposedly more tolerant regime, that something would have been done. He bloody well hoped so, otherwise he’d give the Aurors a piece of his mind, never mind Kingsley’s shiny new role as Minister for Magic.

So, no funeral yet for Crabbe, but plenty of others to read about. Fred Weasley’s. The double funeral of Remus Lupin and his wife Tonks.

The usual headlines: HOGWARTS HEROES HONOURED.

Snape scrutinised the photographs: there was Potter, sombre and pale, with his arm around a sobbing Ginevra Weasley, both of them in black mourning robes.

Interesting girl, that Weasley chit. She had always reminded Snape of Lily, and not only because of the red hair. She was like Lily with all of the cheek and less of the softness. She was one of the very few non-Slytherin students who had never seemed that intimidated by him, even when he’d packed her off into the Forest with Longbottom (now one of the Daily Prophet’s vaunted ‘Prophecy Boys’) and that dotty Lovegood lass after their ridiculous scheme to steal the Gryffindor sword. Golden Trio wannabes, he had thought acidly at the time. He remembered the puzzled expression in Ginevra’s brown eyes when he had icily ordered the three of them to get out of his office and start their detention at once. Indeed, he had virtually seen the wheels of her mind turning over. He’s sending us into the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid? That’s not much of a punishment …

"Oh, well done," he had thought at the time. "Keep using your brain, you smug little Gryffindor, and you might just pick up a clue."

Now Ginevra’s tear-stained face floated in front of him as he gazed at the photograph. Potter was comforting her, hugging her. She was crying onto his shoulder.

Snape’s expression darkened. It was too much like looking at Lily and James. How excruciatingly typical of the boy, to pick a girl who so closely resembled his own mother …

But if James’s son was looking for some semblance of Lily, so was he.

Always.

It could hardly be otherwise. For six years, her brilliant green eyes had glared accusingly at him in the Potions classroom from behind a pair of round spectacles under a tangle of dark hair. He could never get away from those eyes. Even now, they gazed up at him from the pages of The Prophet.

He scowled at the moving photo of Harry and Ginevra, and tore the page up.


***


Another month passed. He was too ill to travel to London to testify at the trials. Thank Merlin for that. So instead Kingsley came to Hogwarts, with Potter, to take Snape’s written statement. Since Snape was still too weak to move around, he sat in a wheelchair while Poppy discreetly drew a curtain around the bed to allow him and his two visitors privacy.

Kingsley seemed as relaxed as ever, despite the headache of a summer he must be having, what with numerous trials and investigations. He was dressed in deep purple robes with a golden ‘M’ embroidered on the front. Snape noted ironically that he still wore his gold ear-ring: Odin forfend that Kingsley should ever become entirely conventional. He sat comfortably, hands folded, while an official Ministry quill took down dictation in an official Ministry notepad. All errors in transcription to be magically erased afterwards, of course.

Potter was there at Kingsley’s behest to verify Snape’s account. But of course, thought Snape testily, Kingsley needed the bloody Boy Wonder to verify everything. As it was, Harry seemed tense. He sat silently, looking as if he wished he were a thousand miles away. Snape wished that too. Better in that case to get this whole thing over as quickly as possible, tell Kingsley everything he needed to hear.

Kingsley listened in his usual impassive manner as Snape told him about the events of the night of 2nd May, when he had suspected Harry had broken into Hogwarts. He told how desperate he had been to find the boy, because of the information that Dumbledore had entrusted to him about telling Harry what needed to be done to defeat Voldemort. But events had taken over: Minerva’s patience had finally run out and she had launched a volley of curses at him, even trying to kill him. He recounted how he had been expelled from the school by Minerva and the faculty, how he had flown in bat-shape to the Forest … and how Voldemort had, finally, summoned him to the Shrieking Shack.

“Albus had warned me that when the Dark Lord began to keep Nagini safe by his side, rather than sending her out to do his will, that would be the time to tell Harry what needed to be done at the last. When I saw he had put Nagini under magical protection, I knew then it was of the utmost importance to find Harry. Time was clearly running out.”

It felt awkward to be using the boy’s first name like this. But he was merely repeating Albus’s words. That was all.

Harry was biting his lip. He seemed deep in thought and his face had gone rather ashen.

Kingsley gave him a quizzical look and held up his hand. “Is there something you wish to say at this point, Harry?” he enquired.

“No – no,” the boy muttered. “It can wait.”

He cast an uneasy glance at Snape, who looked sardonic.

“If it’s important, we need to hear it,” said Kingsley.

Harry took a deep breath and said slowly, “Nagini was the sixth Horcrux.”

“She was the what?” said Kingsley.

“She was the sixth Horcrux. That’s why Voldemort was keeping her so close to him. He split his soul into seven parts, Kingsley – seven Horcruxes.”

“Good God,” said Kingsley.

“It’ll take a while to explain,” said Harry, rubbing his nose. “That’s why I didn’t want to interrupt Professor Snape’s testimony.”

Snape scowled. “So that’s what you and Professor Dumbledore were doing during your sixth year,” he said abruptly. “He was instructing you where to find and destroy them, wasn’t he?”

Harry looked directly at him. “Yes.” Incredibly, he sounded – apologetic.

Snape’s lip curled. “There was a great deal that Dumbledore chose not to tell me,” he informed Kingsley.

“So I gather,” said Kingsley quietly. “We are aware of how difficult this last year must have been for you, Severus.”

Snape shrugged. “Occupational hazard of being a double agent.” His voice was hard.

Harry said hoarsely, “I was the seventh, you see. The seventh Horcrux. That’s why I survived the Killing Curse.”

They both turned to stare at him.

Snape had heard of Horcruxes before, of course. So that was why the child had accepted that questionable suicide mission designated for him by Albus. Realising that Harry had understood as much as he had about the Dark Magic used by Voldemort somehow made the whole endeavour seem less nauseating to Snape: the boy had obviously understood very clearly what he was doing, rather than just jumping to obey because Albus said so.

Snape almost refused to admit that he felt something like respect.

Kingsley said, “You’ve not mentioned this before, Harry.”

“I’ve not had the opportunity, have I?” The boy’s gaze was defiant. “I’ve not held anything back, Kingsley. I’ve answered every question the Ministry’s put to me.”

“Yes,” said Kingsley, nodding. “Yes, you have. I’m not accusing you, Harry.”

Snape said, “So what were the other Horcruxes, Mr Potter?”

“There was a diary. Tom Riddle’s enchanted diary. Part of his soul was in it. He possessed Ginny in her first year here.”

“And you destroyed this object in the Chamber of Secrets,” said Snape sharply.

“Yes. Then there was the ring – Tom Marvolo Gaunt’s ring, he was Riddle’s grandfather, Riddle stole it. He put a curse on it. When Professor Dumbledore found the ring, the curse got him and he – he was going to die from it.” Harry’s voice faltered.

“That’s three Horcruxes. Snake, diary, ring. What else?” asked Kingsley.

Harry told them about the possessed locket, destroyed by Ron Weasley wielding the Sword of Gryffindor.

“Which Professor Snape sent to us,” said Harry. “He did it the most amazing way too. He Apparated to the Forest of Dean and sent his patronus to me, so I would follow it and find the sword, hidden in a lake. It was just amazing.”

Snape’s eyes narrowed. Was the boy putting on an act?

“Ah, Severus,” said Kingsley, “this is excellent, man, really. Harry, you’re most helpful to tell us this. The Ministry is going to be very satisfied indeed with this account. There is no question, Severus, where your ultimate loyalties lay.”

Snape leaned back in his wheelchair and studied the ceiling, pressing his fingertips together.

“Oh, I’m so glad, Kingsley,” he said blandly, “to know that I survived in order to satisfy the Ministry’s requirements. That really does make life worth living.”

The boy choked back what sounded like a laugh.

Kingsley did laugh, openly: a short bark of amusement. “You see that your former Potions master’s sense of humour is as intact as ever, Harry.”

The boy said quietly: “Yeah. Yeah, it is.”

He then told them about Hufflepuff’s cup and Rowena Ravenclaw’s tiara, the latter having been destroyed in the doomed Vincent Crabbe’s Fiendfyre.

“Much is explained,” said Kingsley softly, gazing at Harry with an almost fatherly look. “So you, Harry … you were the seventh.”

“Yes. That’s what Professor Snape had to tell me. Not that Professor Dumbledore explained it quite that way to him, but Professor Snape had to tell me that part of Voldemort’s soul attached itself to mine on the night he murdered my parents and that’s why I survived, and it was also why I would have to be killed by him in the end. Well, in a manner of speaking. That’s why I went to surrender myself to him in the Forest. Because I was the seventh Horcrux. When I viewed Professor Snape’s memories in the Pensieve, I realised that immediately.”

Kingsley breathed out deeply, a gusty sigh. He shook his head.

“You two,” he said slowly. “Harry and Severus … Albus entrusted you both with much. Heavy burdens to bear, to be sure.”

Neither Harry nor Snape said anything.

“Let’s take a break,” said Kingsley, rising. “I’ll go and check with Poppy about lunch. We can resume after we’ve eaten, there’s a lot to get through.”

He rose gracefully and disappeared with a swish of his robes through the curtain.

Leaving Snape alone with the teenaged saviour of the wizarding world.

“Professor Snape – ”

The boy took a deep breath.

“I left your memories in the Pensieve, sir,” he said quietly. “If you – if you want to retrieve them, you can do so, before the Ministry takes the Pensieve away. They want to inspect it, you see.”

This was easy to deal with. Snape said, in his silkiest voice, “You advise me to tamper with the evidence, Potter? Dear oh dear. What would Kingsley think?”

“You know very well what memories I mean … sir.” The boldness was back in Harry’s voice. If his eyes could have shot sparks at Snape, they would have done so. “The Ministry doesn’t have to see all of them in order to get the full picture about you and why you worked against Voldemort.”

There was a loaded silence. Snape hated to admit that the boy had a point, but … the boy had a point. He took refuge in glowering.

Of course, Harry wasn’t done yet. “That’s not the only thing I wanted to say,” he said, in the same clear, determined voice.

Oh, God.


“We shouldn’t have left you there, Professor Snape. In the Shrieking Shack. We – we should have checked, more carefully. We should have felt for a pulse or something. Hermione feels terrible about it. So do I. We made a mistake.” Harry spoke in a very firm voice, as if to impress this point on Snape as fully as possible. “A big one. We – we failed you, Professor.”

Snape went as still as stone, silently absorbing the words.

We failed you, Professor.

Eventually he said, with a twisted smile: “Did you? In your eyes I was a Death Eater. The Dark Lord’s right-hand man, no less. It was entirely expected that you should leave my body to rot in the Shack, once you’d got what you needed.”

Harry winced, but his green eyes also became fiery.

“It wasn’t exactly easy for me to watch you dying, Professor Snape. Anyway, you weren’t a Death Eater. You were on my side.”

Your side?”

Harry held Snape’s gaze. “You know very well what I mean, sir.”

“Oh yes,” said Snape smoothly. “According to you, I’m Dumbledore’s man through and through.”

At that, Harry dropped his gaze. He said, quietly: “I realise that Professor Dumbledore wasn’t perfect.” And then, more quietly still: “But I loved him anyway.”

Snape found he had no answer to this. He wished frantically that Kingsley would get a bloody move on and return.

Harry seemed to sense how he felt. He shut up and sat demurely, his eyes fixed on the floor, until Kingsley returned.


***


The interview took another three hours. Kingsley was patient but painstaking, checking and rechecking everything Snape told him and the details supplemented by Harry. Eventually the swish of the quill ceased, and Kingsley snapped the notebook shut.

“Thank you, Severus. I hope this has not been too exhausting for you.”

“I’ll live,” said Snape, with a cold smile.

“Harry is due for a well-earned holiday,” said Kingsley. “Eh, Harry? I’ve invited him to join the Auror Department, Severus, but I want him to take a break first.”

Potter was going to train in the Auror Department, at the tender age of seventeen? Kingsley clearly believed the Boy Wonder to be invincible. Well, the boy had bested Tom Riddle, after all …

“Yeah,” the boy said to Kingsley. “Ginny and I are going on holiday in August with her parents. Ron and Hermione are coming too of course and then they’re going to join Hermione’s mum and dad for a short break in France. Fleur’s parents have lent Mr and Mrs Granger their holiday home there. After the summer holidays, I’ll be all set to start with the Ministry.”

All set to start with the Ministry.
Snape’s lip curled at the thought of the Boy Wonder’s golden career about to take off.

“But, you know, Kingsley, I think I might need some extra tuition first.”

Harry turned to Snape.

“You probably know, Professor, that most people are going to repeat this school year. I won’t be, because of starting work with Kingsley. Even so, I could do with some extra tuition in Defence Against the Dark Arts.”

Kingsley gave a great bark of laughter. “Extra tuition? Harry, are you kidding me? You should be teaching the class, man!”

“Well, maybe,” said Harry. “I think I could do with learning a few extra moves though. Not just rely on faithful old ‘Expelliarmus’ all the time.”

“‘Expelliarmus’ didn’t exactly backfire the last time you used it, Potter.” Snape’s voice was very dry.

“Yeah, well … that was all pretty complicated. As you know now, Professor Snape. Will – will you be coming back, next term?”

Kingsley looked enquiringly at Snape.

“As you are probably aware, Severus, I have asked the Ministry if you can be offered a sabbatical. Think it over.”

“Minerva has mentioned it, yes. I can only observe, Kingsley, that the Ministry has some interesting ideas about rewarding a former Death Eater,” said Snape waspishly. “Or is this merely to get me out of the way in case some former associates wish to bump me off? That would save the Ministry the bother of putting me on trial, wouldn’t it?”

Kingsley smiled, completely un-offended. “You think it over,” he said again. “And, Severus – as you know, you have the Ministry’s full security service behind you.”

Harry said, “You needn’t fear, Professor Snape. I’ll be on the lookout now for any Death Eater in hiding who wishes to assassinate you.”

The boy’s expression was serious but his lips twitched and his eyes danced. Snape glared at him, but Kingsley chuckled. He stuck out his hand.

“I’m grateful, Severus, man. Thank you.”

A warm clasp.

And then Potter also insisted on shaking his hand.

“Goodbye, Professor Snape.” The green eyes met his, unflinchingly. “I’ll see you again soon, I expect. And … thank you.”

Snape nodded curtly.

As Kingsley turned to go, he said, “You know what they should call you, Severus?” His white teeth flashed. “‘The Man Who Lived’.”

Delighted with his own wit, Kingsley grinned broadly and swept out, his arm round Harry’s shoulders.

After they’d left, and Poppy had pulled back the curtain, Snape slowly got back into bed and lay back, breathing in the June sunshine flooding through the open windows.

In front of him yawned the summer. He had no idea what he was going to do. For the last sixteen years, he had always known exactly what he was going to do, what needed to be done. It had been grim and dark, but he had done it.

Now … there was nothing. He was too exhausted to care.

No doubt Albus’s portrait would have plenty of advice, but stuff Albus. He’d had enough counsel from him for a lifetime.

When the time came for him to address Albus’s portrait, he would carefully work out what he needed to say, and he knew he should say it without anger.


***


Sleep. He sought sleep. Words buzzed in his head.

Look at me, he’d said to Harry in those terrible seconds when he had thought he was dying. He’d thought that would be the last thing he would ever say.

And Harry had granted the request and gazed into a dying man’s eyes.

And I looked at him. Yes, he had studied the boy this afternoon, examined that thin face wearing those absurd glasses, noticed the shadows under Harry’s eyes. Lily’s eyes, bright and green and clear.

The words of Albus floated in his memory, although he had chosen to ignore them at the time.

“His deepest nature is much more like his mother’s.”

Snape sighed, and gradually fell into a sleep as peaceful and profound as the Draught of Living Death.


***


In the early hours of the morning, between sleeping and waking, another dream swam into his mind.

He was back in the Forest of Dean, following a winding woodland trail. The great beeches formed a summer-green canopy over his head. He swooped along like a bat, black silk robes billowing behind him.

He flew on with great purpose until he reached his destination, a glade where a pool glimmered in the green-and-gold shadows.

He’d been here before. He’d made this pool. He smiled. Truly he was a wizard of remarkable powers.

He saw her then, as he knew he would. The doe, delicately grazing by the pool. The sunlight slanted down through the trees and touched her silver flanks with gold. She looked up and regarded him with her dark, mild eyes.

There was someone else there. A boy, sitting on the bank sloping gently down to the pool. The doe wandered over to him and lipped at the boy’s unruly black hair. He reached up and stroked her neck gently.

Severus hovered, waiting.

Harry glanced over his shoulder and noticed him. He said: “It’s OK, Professor. It’s OK.”

The doe approached Severus then, seeming to glide over the grass. She shone in the sun.


***


Bright morning sunlight. Poppy was bustling around, brewing a delicious-scented coffee.

He turned the card over in his hand again.

Dear Professor Snape, thank you. We never lost faith. Please accept our very best wishes for your swift recovery, from Blaise, Daphne, Asteria, Theo & Tracey.

Severus permitted himself a smile.

He knew, now, what he wanted to do … at least for the immediate future.

And it felt good.



FINIS



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Last edited by Pearl_Took; May 1st, 2009 at 2:33 pm.
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