Severus Snape stood staring up at the castle of Hogwarts, regarding the light spilling from its broken windows and half-ruined walls onto the lawns. It was a little strange, to see such activity there so late at night, but of course, tonight was no normal night. Anything could really happen, especially that which one didn’t expect – that was the only certainty. Something momentous, something that had been building for untold years, would reach a close tonight, and Severus did not know to which side the victor would belong.
The dark shadows from the cluster of trees where he stood concealed him, and for this he was grateful, for now he could watch and not be watched. Screams pierced the night, followed by blasts and bangs as whole chunks of stone crumbled to the ground. Bodies littered the grass out here, and Severus could only imagine how much worse it might look inside. His stomach churned unpleasantly at the thought – could he have stopped any of this bloodshed?
It was as though a large clock was ticking somewhere inside him, counting down the minutes until his premonition came true. A feeling of unease had cloaked him since the mark had burned on his forearm, alerting him that the Carrows had caught Potter. But now he would never be able to fulfill the mission he had promised Dumbledore he would fulfill. This new thought struck him horribly – could it end, if Potter didn’t have the information he needed?
If Minerva hadn’t prevented him from finding the boy, then he might even now be freed from his obligations to Dumbledore. But no matter. He had to reenter the fray, to find Potter and tell him what he needed to know. It was risky – only a fool would attempt it – but Severus supposed he’d done more foolish things in his past than this, and he wasn’t about to throw away what might be the last opportunity to bring this hellish war to an end.
Severus stepped warily from the copse of trees, drawing his black cloak tightly around his shoulders. The mark on his arm still tingled from earlier, and he clenched his right hand on it unconsciously. From somewhere deep within the recesses of the castle, yet loud enough to be heard on the grounds, came a great shattering of glass and a man’s bloodcurdling scream. He winced involuntarily.
He had not made it more than five yards from his hiding spot, however, when someone to his right called out his name. He withdrew his hand quickly, spinning to meet whoever had recognized him. He didn’t care whom he cursed anymore – he wasn’t letting anyone deter him from his quest a second time. But it was only Lucius Malfoy, tattered, wandless, and pathetic-looking, hands raised as though in surrender.
“Do you need something from me, Lucius?” Severus said coldly, lowering his wand but not pocketing it quite yet. His dark eyes roved over the man’s appearance. His eyes were red and bloodshot, his face drawn, and the shadow of a beard several days old played around his jaw.
“I have been sent to find you on the Dark Lord’s orders,” Lucius said in a low, urgent tone, gray eyes darting about as though afraid they would be overheard, although no one was near them. “He requests your presence. He is in the place we discussed.” Lucius’s pale eyebrows rose slightly on his forehead, and Severus nodded in understanding.
“Very well,” he said curtly, turning sharply on his heel as though to go. Lucius shot out a slim pale hand and gripped Severus’s left forearm suddenly, right where his mark was still prickling; he winced again and looked back at the desperation on his companion’s face.
“Please… has there been any sign of Draco?” he whispered, and Snape threw off the hand, his lip curling slightly.
“I wouldn’t know, Lucius,” he said, and then turned once more on his heel, leaving Lucius Malfoy staring after him with a pained expression on his face. Severus couldn’t believe the sort of man Lucius had turned out to be – just as sniveling and pathetic as his son. Well, now it was rather obvious where Draco got that from. But at least Draco had attempted to put on a brave face at times, at least while Severus had been teaching him.
As he crossed the grounds in the direction of the Whomping Willow, however, the other man’s words began to play back through his head, and emotions began conflicting inside Severus as he thought of their implications. One part of him had suddenly become paralyzed with a kind of sick, raging fear as to why the Dark Lord had requested to see him now, of all times. He wondered what he might have done to spark his temper. But another, entirely different part of him had inexplicably adopted a cool and controlled calm. He had been waiting nearly seventeen years for this to happen, for the discovery of his treachery to the Dark Lord. Now that it was finally happening, he just wanted it to be over.
He reached the main building that was the Shrieking Shack without incident, apart from dusty streaks on his robes and cloak. The tall and rather menacing figure of Lord Voldemort was standing by the window, his hands fingering over and over a thin wand. Near his shoulder, his snake Nagini twisted slowly in a kind of spherical, magical cage. Snape’s eyes hovered over this before saying, “You asked to see me, my Lord?”
The Dark Lord turned, obviously already aware that Snape had entered the room. His hands were still idly caressing the wand clutched in them. Without looking at Severus, he crossed to a table and sat down almost carelessly at it.
“How does Hogwarts fare, Severus?”
Snape’s eyes roved once more to the snake in its glittering pen, seeking to look anywhere but into the red eyes of Lord Voldemort. “My Lord, their resistance is crumbling-“
He found his words cut off as Lord Voldemort interrupted him. The conversational tone in which they had spoken in months previous was now gone from the Dark Lord’s voice; instead the voice was as it was always meant to be, cold and high and harsh.
But although he listened to the words his master was saying, and made the appropriate responses, his mind had once more traversed elsewhere. His time, he knew, was drawing to a close, but he must find Potter before his life was finished. But although he asked the Dark Lord if he would be allowed to bring the boy to the Shrieking Shack, he knew it was a futile gesture even before Lord Voldemort had a chance to respond to the question. But he had to try. It was his last-ditch effort, but he had to try.
He only hoped his end would be quick – surely, Lord Voldemort would honor that much. A flash of green light, and then all would be over. But now the man was speaking about his wand, and in a horrid flash of clarity, Severus knew exactly what he had done to displease his master. Fear threatened to choke him, rising like bile in his throat, but he forced it down, willing himself to remain calm.
He lost control of his senses when Lord Voldemort raised his own wand. Severus withdrew his from the pocket of his robes, but it was no use. He held his breath, waiting for the two words that would seal his death, waiting for the flash of light that would be the last thing he ever saw. But instead he saw the Dark Lord move the cage around Nagini through the air with his wand – and he understood all too well.
The scream that issued from him seemed strangely distant and foreign; he felt the sharp fangs pierce his neck as a pain like no other engulfed his body. His hands sought the wound as the cage was lifted from his head and shoulders, but could not stem the flow of blood that gushed forth. He heard Lord Voldemort say something, and then he departed.
He knew he was dying. This was it. This was the moment. And he had not been able to do as he had promised… He saw Potter now, a vision of him, taunting Severus with the things he had been unable to tell him…
But no – this was Potter, the real Potter, and his friends, Weasley and Granger. Snape’s eyes roved over the faces of the three, and for the first time in his life, he was glad to see him. But pain was already blurring his eyes – there was only one thing that might work now. And even as he thought it, something silvery and mist-like floated from him lightly. The memories he could not utter, but could show.
As he felt himself fading into the floor, watching as his memories were captured in the flask the girl had produced, a wild thought occurred to him. His hand, covered now in his own blood, scrambled to find the front of Harry’s robes. He found himself gazing into the vivid green eyes of Lily Potter – the eyes he had loved all his life.
“Look… at… me…” he choked. Potter’s face swam before his vision, and for a blessed moment, it was not Harry Potter but his mother who was kneeling over Severus as he lay dying.
Whatever force was pulling him under now succeeded in its task. The life left Severus gently, fading finally from his black eyes, now dull in the ashen face. His last thought, before eternal sleep brought him home, of Lily.
A/N: So, this was my favorite chapter of this. I absolutely adore Snape so much, but killing him off (even though it's canon) hurt me like nothing else. It came so quickly, though, and I am very pleased with the end result.
And with that, this story is completed. I really hope you enjoyed it. Thank you to everyone who's read this as it has unfolded, I am really blessed. If you've come this far, and could leave a review in the box below, it would be much appreciated!
Story has been bolded where text was taken from DH. I own neither of the quotes; they are J.K. Rowling's.