"My Lord!" Severus Snape gasped as he flung open the doors to the Inner Sanctuary of his Master, drawing all eyes to his figure. He was dressed in his teaching robes, his white mask nowhere in sight and his greasy hair hanging wildly around his face. None of them had ever seen the normally unflustered Potions Master this out of sorts.
Without kneeling or making any kind of obeisance, not even waiting for the Dark Lord to query what had his follower so excited, Snape rushed up to the massive throne, his robes billowing out behind him.
"Potter has committed suicide-" a collective shock went through the gathering "and the magical backlash killed Dumbledore, bringing down the wards of Hogwarts!"
Voldemort rose from his throne to tower over his Death Eaters. "Give me your mind."
At the chilling command Snape brought down his mental shields, allowing his Master access to the memories pertaining to the incident, in particular and especially the image of both the Potter boy and Dumbledore lying in the Hogwarts infirmary, deathly pale and still. Then a brief memory of himself casting spells to ascertain that the wards had fallen with the death of the Headmaster and immediately after apparating directly from the inside of the castle to Malfoy Manor, where his Master resided.
A thrill of excitement and triumph flashed through the Potions Master's head before Lord Voldemort pulled his mind away from his Death Eater's, striding swiftly past him into the center of the hall, the members of his Inner Circle surrounding him with a thirsty hope in their eyes.
"We go to Hogwarts!"
At their Master's words, a ragged cry went up around the gathering. Wands were drawn and brandished, and Voldemort spread his lips in a terrible, bloodthirsty grin.
"I will apparate directly into the infirmary," he declared, sweeping his robes out as he drew his own wand, holding it in his bony, white hand. "Lucius, I trust you to apparate to just outside the infirmary, to warn me of any… surprise guests." Lucius Malfoy dropped to one knee before his Master.
"You can rely on me, my Lord," he said unctuously.
"Bellatrix," Voldemort spoke, his voice sounding almost like a caress as he spoke the name of his favorite, whose fanatical eyes gleamed up at him. "You will apparate to the inside of the Great Hall, behind the Head Table, and secure it. Do not kill any children; we will deal with the mudbloods later." As she fell to her knees before him, he continued issuing his orders. "Rodolphus, Rabastan – you will go with Bella and help her secure the inside of the hall. You five," he gestured, "will apparate to the outside of the Great Hall." Delegating other strategic positions to the remaining members of his Inner Circle, he turned at last to Snape, who was the only one left standing.
"Severus," Lord Voldemort hissed, a gleam in his eyes. "You have pleased me greatly."
"My Lord," Snape replied, dropping to one knee, "I am but your humble servant."
"Oh, no, Severus; you have done much in this war, and such loyalty must be rewarded. You will apparate directly to the Headmaster's office and secure it, for it will be yours to claim in my new world."
"You honor me, my Lord," Snape whispered, bowing his head.
"Let us waste no further time," the Dark Lord said triumphantly. "Our time is upon us!" Apparating directly from that room, the wizard felt a rush of wicked satisfaction when he found himself in the Hogwarts infirmary. A sweeping glance showed that there was no one there – no one but two still forms in white beds, that is.
A mad cackle spilled from his lips. "I find I have to thank you, Potter," he said in amusement. "I had reserved for myself the pleasure of killing you, but I find this to be almost better even. Taking your own life and killing Dumbledore in the process – what a brilliant move! As such, I thank you." He sketched a mocking bow in the direction of the pale corpse, freezing when he heard two words.
"April Fool," rang out the voice of Harry Potter.
A flash of green light raced towards him faster than he could react, and the Dark Lord knew no more.
"…Seriously?" The pale body of Harry Potter sat up on his bed, suddenly rippling as he dispelled the glamor he wore. A fully alive and healthy Boy-Who-Lived sat there, his holly wand still pointed at the corpse of the man called Tom Marvolo Riddle.
"Seriously?" he asked again, turning to look at Dumbledore in the bed next to him, who had by now also dispelled his glamor.
"So… what, the 'power he knows not' is humor?" His voice was dripping in incredulity, but it was irrefutable that there was a dead Dark Lord on the floor of the infirmary.
"It does seem that way," Albus Dumbledore replied, his blue eyes twinkling as he gazed upon the fallen body of the dark wizard. "It does seem so indeed."
Just then the infirmary doors opened and Severus Snape entered, only to stop abruptly in the entrance.
A moments silence stretched, then something truly unexpected happened – he grinned.
Turning to the two men still sitting in bed, he informed them that their plan had worked, and that the ward to detect Dark Marks had directed all the Death Eaters attempting to apparate directly into Hogwarts into a secure dungeon with magic-repressing wards on it. Then a thought appeared to occur to him, and he pushed up the sleeve of his left arm.
Silence fell again.
"It is fading," the spy croaked. Shaking himself, he turned businesslike again. "Trials will need to be scheduled as soon as possible; before the mark fades entirely."
"Thank you, Severus," Dumbledore said happily. "This does seem to have worked out perfectly."
"Indeed," Snape agreed, looking from his mentor to the young man beside him. "There were no complications, I trust?"
Harry shook his head in the negative. "Thank you for teaching me the Killing Curse, sir," he addressed his professor gravely, and received an equally grave nod.
"This could not have been done without you," Dumbledore said sincerely, having stood up and walked up to his young colleague. Laying a wrinkled hand on the Potion Master's arm, the Headmaster gazed up at the taller man with twinkling eyes. "Lily would be so proud of you."
Snape swallowed hard, his eyes darting briefly from the blue orbs of the Headmaster to vibrant green eyes and back. "I did what I had to," he replied shortly, and Dumbledore nodded.
"And we are all fortunate that you did it so well," he stated, receiving a confirming nod from Harry.
"If you should ever need for anything, Professor," Harry added, "my door is always open to you."
The two of them had perhaps not started out on the best of terms – Harry snorted mentally at the understatement – but after the fiasco of their Occlumency lessons that had resulted in Sirius' death Harry had approached the Professor with a request to start the lessons over, this time determined to learn. The hard work he had put into it from that point on had apparently impressed the Potions Master, as had his efforts in all his classes from then on. It had still been an incredible struggle for Happy to learn Occlumency, and he would never be a Master, but it had forced an alliance between the two of them, which had led to Snape teaching him many useful things, including the way to properly cast the Killing Curse. It had made Harry sick to cast it, the green glow reminding him of his worst memories, but he had persevered until he could cast it silently with a strength that should take out even Voldemort. And it had.
"I find myself reluctant to make this concession," Snape replied, the snarky tone the same as always, "but you may consider the same offer extended to yourself, Potter."
Harry simply inclined his head, understanding the thanks that Snape was hiding underneath the usual dry tone he always used. "Shall we go let everyone know how it went, then?"
"Absolutely," Dumbledore said cheerily, briefly flicking his wand at the crumpled body of Voldemort and floating it before them out of the infirmary. "Everyone else should be in the Great Hall; shall we see what they make of this?"
Harry and Snape shared a disbelieving look at the Headmaster's antics. "Humor," Harry muttered under his breath.