He Who Laughs Last

                                                                                                                           By

                                                                                                                    shadowycat

Disclaimer:  Severus Snape and all he speaks of belong to another more clever than I.  I intend no infringement, nor do I make any monetary gain from this work.  It exists solely for the enjoyment of any and all who wish to read it.  Hopefully they'll be kind enough to leave me their opinions in exchange.

I wish to extend a huge heartfelt Thank You to Gotsnape for all her time, help, and suggestions.  Her kindness and insights were invaluable to me in producing this piece. :)

Severus Snape entered his quarters and swept across the room to a glass fronted cabinet next to his desk.  With a wave of his wand, he unlocked the door and removed a snifter and a bottle of brandy.  He held the bottle cradled gently in his hands for a moment and inspected the label with approval.  Yes, this one would be appropriate.  He'd been saving it for a special occasion, and it didn't get any more special than this.  His lips curved into a faint smile as he opened the bottle and poured out a healthy dram.

Delicately he picked up his drink and swirled the amber liquid around inside so that it would warm the contents in a pleasing way.  Smiling happily into the depths of the warming liquor, he sauntered across the room, to stand before the flickering fire.   He raised his hand so that the light from the many candles that illuminated his chambers reflected their brilliance within the swirling contents of the glass.

"Here's to you, Black.  A true Gryffindor to the end…reckless…careless…dead." 

With that pronouncement, Snape threw back his head and downed a large amount of the liquor.  Then he set the snifter down on the mantle and reached out his hand to a small lacquered box.  Carelessly he flipped open the lid and immediately a golden blur rose straight up and with a flash of iridescent wings began to buzz erratically around the room.

Reclaiming his glass, Snape took another sip of his brandy as he casually watched the progress of the golden snitch as it dipped and whirled around his sitting room in mindless, shining glory.

"Well, it seems you're really gone for good this time, Black.  I thought when they threw you into Azkaban that that would be the end of you, but I must grudgingly admit, you impressed me there.  You managed to survive far longer than I'd have ever expected, and your escape was a feat that certainly took me by surprise, but then I didn't have the advantage of knowing your true nature.  I thought you only acted like an ignorant animal.  I never dreamed that you actually were one."

With a satisfied smirk on his face, Snape casually drew his wand from his sleeve and fired a bolt of red light across the room hitting the snitch head on and causing a bell-like tone to echo throughout the chamber.

"Ah…a point for me."  He took another sip of the brandy, his sharp eyes never leaving the golden ball as it zipped about aimlessly.

"Your death is certainly a small loss to the Order.  You offered very little benefit to the cause other than a house you had no use for.  Considering all the baggage that came with it, I can't believe that another more appropriate meeting place couldn't have been found elsewhere.  Still I suppose its bedraggled state did provide a way to keep you occupied and at least preserve the illusion that you had some true value. All anyone ever seemed to hear from you lately though was whining.  It was actually rather comforting to see you showing your true colors to others for a change.  Even the ever sickeningly cheerful Molly Weasley was getting fed up with your complaining.  You never did know enough to keep your mouth shut and be grateful when someone was trying to help you out."

"So you had to hide out for the time being.  It wouldn't have been forever, after all, but you were too impatient, too immature to know when something was for your own good and simply put up with it.  Insisting on accompanying Potter to the train station to see him off for school was a case in point.  It was a stupid thing to do…it got you recognized…it could've gotten you killed right then.  It certainly could've compromised the secrecy of the Order, but did you learn anything from the experience?"  He snorted shortly and shook his head in disgust.

"Of course not.  You only bemoaned your lot all the louder."  Snape took another sip of his brandy.  "Well, this was the result of your rashness…your recklessness.  Was it worth it, I wonder?"

Idly he took aim on the oblivious snitch and let fly another stream of crimson magic.  Once more a bell-like tone reverberated in the silence of the room.  "That's two."

Snape abandoned the mantle and sank into one of the comfortably worn wing chairs that faced his fireplace, resting his feet on the padded footrest that surrounded the hearth.

"What a stupid way to die.  Not exactly the heroic exit I imagine you figured on, eh Black?  Although, I suppose you died happy, believing that you were defending your beloved godson.  It was all so pointless.  If that godson had used the brains he'd supposedly been born with he wouldn't have been so easily tricked, and then none of this would have happened."

"Trying to teach Occlumency to that boy was a horrendous waste of time!  Saint Potter never even tried to learn what I had to teach him.  He didn't want to block out the Dark Lord.  He wanted to know what his plans were.  How else could he continue to play hero?  I'm sure he thought that if he could just see what the Dark Lord was up to he could charge in and save the day for everyone.  Well, congratulations Potter, you led the charge, but things didn't work out quite the way you expected, did they?  That famous Gryffindor recklessness got your godfather killed.  Happy now?"  He smirked knowingly into the fire.

Noticing that he'd depleted his brandy, Snape rose fluidly from his chair and crossed to the desk where he'd left the bottle.  Splashing more liquor into his snifter, he stared into the amber depths and frowned.  "I suppose that idiot boy won't have the wit to put the blame where it belongs for Black's death, though.  That glare he gave me earlier spoke volumes even if he did have the sense not to follow it up with words.  Black's death certainly wasn't any of my doing, but I'm sure Potter will find some way to fasten the blame around my neck."

The Potions Master picked up his libation and took another leisurely swallow then headed back across the room drilling the golden snitch once more as it flitted by.

As the tone echoed in the air for the third time, Snape settled himself once more before the fire and frowned into its mesmerizing warmth.  "I informed Dumbledore of what Potter believed as soon as I was able to.  Once he and his little friends didn't return from the Forbidden Forest, it was obvious that he'd gone off on a fool rescue mission of his own.  That certainly wasn't my fault!  When has that boy ever waited for the help he needed?  He always insists on running off and jumping feet first into trouble without checking to see if there's anywhere to land.  Another prime example of the Gryffindor value system …act first, think later, lament the consequences, and place the blame on Slytherin!"

"Well, one good thing did come from all this mess.  At least now that idiot Fudge has had to face up to the fact that the Dark Lord has really returned.  There'll be no more burying his fat head in the sand and crying that everyone is lying and plotting against him.  The end to the tantrums and carrying on alone will be a huge improvement.  Now Dumbledore can finally get down to the real business of fighting this war out in the open without having to covertly battle people who should be backing him up instead of tearing him down." 

"I imagine the first order of business will be to get Black's name cleared posthumously.  They'll all insist on that, I'm sure.  Well, it's only fair, I suppose, after all the little rat isn't dead, so it's not right for anyone to be held accountable for a crime that never happened.  I'll admit it was rather enjoyable to watch Black squirming in his cage, though.  Oh, well…nothing lasts forever."

Snape sighed and twirled his glass between his hands.  "Two down and two to go.  All that's left of the "Golden Gryffindors", the infamous Marauders, are Lupin and Pettigrew.  The lesser lights in the celestial firmament.  The little rat has already suffered quite a bit at the hands of his current master, and no doubt will suffer more.  He deserves all he gets, as far as I'm concerned.  He was never worth anything anyway.  Pettigrew was always a cringing toady…never an original thought in his tiny pea brain.  The only thing he was ever good for was following someone bigger and stronger around so he could lick their shoes.  Lord Voldemort is simply a bigger bully than Potter was.  Well, according to the old saying…the bigger they are the harder they fall.  I hope the Dark Lord squishes the little rat flat when he finally falls.  I'll be the first in line to applaud."

"That leaves Lupin, in some ways the worst of the lot.  He has brains and supposedly some sense of moral decency.  He always at least pretended to know the difference between right and wrong, but he never had the guts to stand up for it.  For a bunch of people who supposedly personified bravery, the sainted Gryffindors were a remarkably cowardly lot.  Every time Black and Potter would gang up on me I'd see Lupin watching…or more frequently pretending not to.  All too often I could see the disapproval and shame in his eyes, but did he ever defy them?  Did he ever stand up to them and tell them they were wrong?  No, of course not.  He needed them too much.  I suppose bravery is a relative concept.  Gryffindors always did seem to have one set of rules for themselves and another for everyone else."

Finishing off his brandy with a flourish, Snape rose to his feet and casually zapped the snitch for a fourth time.  As the sound echoed pleasantly in his ears, he smiled.  "Four.  Well, Black, I guess it's time to say a final good-bye.  You were a sanctimonious arrogant whiner who thought the sun rose and set at your command, and I'm not a bit sorry to have outlived you.  You and Potter made my life hell for many years, but now you're both gone, and I'm still here.  I'd be more pleased about that, but considering what those of us who remain are facing, perhaps I may come to regret having outlived you after all. Still, I simply can't bring myself to be sorry you're gone.  May all the misery you heaped on others in your lifetime come back to haunt you in death.  A little poetic justice is good for the soul they say.  It certainly gave a lift to mine."

With a lightning quick motion of his hand he reached up and snatched the passing snitch from the air.  He smirked at it for a moment as it beat helplessly against the palm of his closed hand.  "That little trick used to get you raves, didn't it Potter?  Well, who gets the last laugh now?"  With a smile of satisfaction, Snape slid the snitch back into its place inside the lacquered box and closed the lid with a firm snap.  Then with a wave of his wand he extinguished the candles in his sitting room and retreated into the bedroom where he fully expected to have the best night's sleep he'd had in quite some time.