Severus had never felt so anguished in his life. He leaned forward, resting his elbows on Dumbledore's desk, biting his lip so hard that he drew blood.
The ironic part was that if he had been faced with this choice a few years ago – even a few months ago, really – he would have burst out laughing at the thought of having any difficulty in making it. A chance to relive his life, to avoid joining Voldemort and stay friends with Regulus and Lily, and maybe even be with Lily, was all he had ever wanted for the past two decades. How could that even be compared to a life with Harry Potter, a boy who he had wholeheartedly detested for several years? It was ludicrous. There should be no question in his mind: stay in this world and don't even give Potter a second glance.
And yet, as Severus watched the sun's dying rays illuminate the boy's face, he could not ignore the undeniable affection and warmth he felt. How could he just leave Potter to go face Rudolphus alone, while he remained here and lived out his dreams? After all Potter had done for him, especially when they had been in this situation? That seemed incredibly wrong. But the boy was a half-decent wizard, wasn't he? He had killed the greatest Dark wizard of all time, shouldn't he be able to defeat a significantly more mediocre and inexperienced wizard without supreme difficulty?
And how – how could Severus give up a chance with Lily? Lily! She would never die…he would never have her blood on his hands…maybe one day she could become Lily Snape, and never, ever Lily Potter…and he could finally have that normal life, being a husband and father, that he had so enviously coveted…
Wouldn't all that – Regulus, Lily, the potential children he could have – wouldn't they easily fill any void that Severus would feel from losing Potter?
Could he seriously be equating Potter to Lily in his mind?!
"I'm going to go for a walk." Potter stated, peering carefully at Severus.
"Why?" asked Severus, distracted.
"I need to clear my head." Potter responded simply.
"Well, come back soon." Severus muttered, privately happy that he would be alone to make this decision. Having Potter right in front of him, looking up with those sad green eyes, would indubitably sway his choice.
Potter stood up and gave Severus a long, searching glance before lightly squeezing his shoulder. "You know what you want to do," Potter said. "And please don't worry about me, I will be fine." And with that, he swept out of Dumbledore's office, leaving Severus to brace his head against Dumbledore's desk, chastising himself for ever growing to care for Harry Potter.
Harry scurried to the Great Hall, quickly devising ways he could communicate with Dumbledore without speaking. He reached the Head Table, leaning over to catch his breath from a stitch in his side, and quickly ducked under the Ravenclaw table. He snatched a spare piece of blank parchment and a quill out of an unassuming first year's bag and scribbled, Snape made his choice and he would like to stay. He charmed it to fly over to Dumbledore, who quickly grabbed and read it, slightly nodding. The man stood up, muttering something about going to the loo to nearby faculty members, and slightly motioned with his head to the door. Harry took it as a cue and followed him.
Dumbledore swept down the great halls of Hogwarts, looking magnificently grand and powerful, and Harry idly wondered if he could give him any tips on spells to use on Rudolphus. Harry was slightly concerned about going back and facing the man, but nothing would override his desire to give Snape happiness.
Dumbledore quickly ducked into an empty classroom and stared at a spot only a few feet to Harry's left as he followed him inside. "Harry, if you're in here, please write "Yes" on the blackboard." A messy "Yes" appeared on the board and Dumbledore nodded, a small smile on his face.
"So, my dear boy, you tell me that Severus desires to remain here and you desire to go back to your world?" A "Yes" appeared on the board again. "Has he told you this himself? Perhaps he ought to tell me in person – "
Harry quickly scribbled, "That's not necessary, he is already back with his friends" on the blackboard and Dumbledore narrowed his eyes slightly.
"Not necessary" Harry wrote again.
"Well, if you insist," Dumbledore said, shrugging slightly. "Okay, Harry, my boy, I need you to stand right here in front of this desk so I know where you are…this spell will take a few short minutes…"
Severus stood up a few moments after Potter left, feeling agitated. He needed to make this decision, and he needed to make it fast, before he began to feel any regret. He stalked out of Dumbledore's office and quickly descended several staircases to the Slytherin common room, walking rapidly into his empty dormitory.
He sat down on the bottom bunk, where Potter had been sleeping, and felt something hard under him. Reaching down, he pulled out an emerald green notebook. Potter must have filched it from his bag and written in it when he had stayed in the dormitory during Severus's classes.
Severus opened it, curious and intrigued. What could Potter have written in it? He saw a date and paragraph written in messy scrawl on each page; Potter had written some sort of entry for each day that they had been there. Severus flipped through them idly but stopped at the longest one and started reading.
Today was reasonably eventful. Snape and Mum were talking outside the Great Hall when the junior Death Eaters – basically everyone in Snape's dormitory – came over and started being arses. They called Mum a Mudblood and said that once Voldemort took over, which would be soon, people "like her" would be stomped out like they insects they are. I was shaking with rage, but it was nothing compared to Snape. I thought he was actually going to kill Mulciber. Snape said that Voldemort was a "bigoted racist" and that anyone who joined him was condemning themselves to a life of misery and servitude, and was enslaving themselves to a madman with absolutely no regard for human life. They hexed him, but he and Mum easily deflected their curses, plus I helped out a bit too. Mum was so happy, she was smiling ear to ear, but I don't think it compared to how proud I felt. He finally acted like the person I know he is on the inside – brilliant, brave, and confident. I wish he had known at the time that he was one hundred times the man any of those guys are; he didn't need them to give him any sense of worth. If today did anything, it reaffirmed all my opinions about Snape; without a doubt, he has a good heart and good intentions. I wish more people had seen all of his potential, in numerous times in his life, but I feel incredibly lucky that I have had the privilege of seeing it myself.
To top the day off, I got a bruise on my head from stumbling over the missing stair on the staircase – clearly, I haven't been at Hogwarts in a while – and Snape legitimately freaked out about it. He started worrying about not having access to medicine, and how he would have to handle any serious medical emergency because he was the only one who could see me, and all that. It was quite entertaining to see a fifteen-year-old, sullen, black-clothed Snape fretting like a mother hen, but I admit, it was kind of nice. It sounds odd to say, but he really would have been a good father.
Next to that, the writing had been scribbled out with copious ink, but Severus could just barely make out what had been written in Potter's untidy scrawl. I just want to go back to the cottage on the lake with Snape. It was like being a part of a real family, and I miss it.
Severus put down the journal suddenly, tucking it back under the blankets. He stood up, resolving to find Potter immediately.
He had made his decision.
Harry was sitting patiently at a desk as Dumbledore muttered innumerable spells under his breath. Harry didn't know what language they were from, but it certainly wasn't English or Latin. He sighed and tried to stop thinking about Snape.
He hoped Dumbledore would speed this process along. He knew that Snape would leave the office eventually and try to look for him. Harry hoped he had made peace with his decision to stay and wasn't under any delusions that he ought to go with Harry – no, that would be the totally wrong idea. He deserved happiness more than anyone – Harry wasn't going to stand by and let Snape prevent himself from having it.
"Okay, Harry, you will be transported back into your world in a few moments," Dumbledore said quietly, thoughtfully peering into what he saw as thin air. "You are prepared?" Harry nodded quickly, then realizing the old man couldn't see him, etched a "Yes" on the blackboard.
Harry felt the air around him become extremely warm and suddenly, white light was surrounding his body. He could still see Dumbledore and the classroom quite clearly, but he could feel himself being pulled away from this world.
He was suddenly filled with regret that he had not said a more proper goodbye to Snape.
Suddenly, to Harry's dismay, Snape erupted into the room, his face etched with shock and rage as he took in Harry, surrounded by bright white light.
"What the bloody hell!" he hissed angrily, his face furious. "STOP, Dumbledore!"
"Severus, Harry told me you were going to remain here." Dumbledore responded, his wand still aloft.
"You imbecile!" Snape shouted. "You have absolutely no right to make this decision for me!"
"Yes I do!" Harry retaliated. "You have to stay here, Snape, do you realize what you're doing? It's my MUM! Isn't this all you have ever wanted?"
"Shut up, Potter!" Snape screamed angrily, trying to get Dumbledore's attention.
"NO!" Harry shouted. "You are making a huge mistake! You don't want to come back with me, I know it, you just think it's the right thing to do – do what you want – "
"I will do what I want, Potter," Snape said furiously. "I do not need your permission!" He paused for a moment. "I want to stay with you!" His voice lost some of its volume and anger, but was still aggressive. Harry tried not to smile and reminded himself that this was for Snape's own good.
"I'm sorry, but I'm going." Harry said resolutely. "Just – please stay! You don't know what you're giving up!" He said desperately.
"I am perfectly aware of what I am sacrificing, and yet, I am still here." Snape said quietly and quickly, blanching afterwards as though he had just realized the meaning of his words.
"Severus," Dumbledore said, smiling slightly as though his heart were warmed, "if you wish to accompany Harry back, please be my guest. However, I have gone pretty deep into the spell with Harry already and I fear that he may return before you – "
Suddenly, Harry felt as though his body was being pulled violently into the air. "It's taking me!" He shouted, trying to hold on to the desks, to no avail. He tried to keep the fear from his voice, but failed miserably. "Was it supposed to happen like this?"
Dumbledore peered upward. "Is he gone yet?" He asked Snape conversationally.
"YES!" Snape shouted angrily. "How do I stop him?" He began yelling spells at Harry, but they were no use; Harry felt himself being pulled higher and higher above, until he reached the ceiling and felt himself being pulled through.
The last thing he heard was Snape's desperate cry of his name.
A/N: Should I keep going? You tell me!