The Gift


Parings: Light Luna/Harry nearing the end, but that's not my ship, at all.

Rating: Pg-13, as always, for disturbing imagery and war.

Distribution: Schnoogle, Twisting the Hellmouth,, or simply email to ask.

Summary: (Severitus' Challenge) The death of Albus Dumbledore leaves a mountain of questions for the Light. Along with Luna, Ginny, Ron, and the unlikely help of a Slytherin, Harry learns that answers often bring hearbreak as the final conflict approaches.

A/N: The end!! This, like my college career, is now done. As graduation looms only a few days away, I'm planning on taking a bit of a break from everything. Cheers.

Epilogue: What Lies Ahead

January 7, 1998

His first sensation was of white. White walls, white light, and white pain. He was groggy, and in the brightness before him, he could make out a dark head. Dark hair. "Sirius?" he whispered.

A loud snort brought him to reality. "I should take offense, but perhaps I'll let you off with a detention for comparing me to that mutt, may he rest in peace."

Harry gasped, eyes flying open. He was in the infirmary, not in his grave. Sitting next to him was his father, holding his hand. But for Severus Snape, the room was empty of any visitors. "Dad?"

Carefully, his father reached over and smoothed down his hair. It was only then that Harry realized the man was using both arms. "Oh, God," Harry whispered. "You died. We both died. I'm sorry, I tried -"

"No, no," Snape assured him. He scooted over to sit on the edge of the bed and, desperate for parental influence, Harry leaned in and let his father hug him tightly. "When Voldemort died, the curse on my arm was dispelled. That's why I could feel the summons, Harry, it was because he didn't truly destroy my arm. I... there's so much to tell you... but there's so little time..."

"I should be dead," Harry whispered. "What....?"

His father helped him to lay back down. "You finished the spell and stabbed Voldemort before he finished his own spell. It weakened the Killing Curse enough so that you did not die, only lapsed into a coma. I was so scared, Harry... so scared..."

"Coma?" Harry peered over. "What day is it?"

"January the 7th. Classes have started. You should have visitors any moment, as soon as they realize you're awake. There's press here, Harry. The stories are making you to be a martyr for the cause, willing to sacrifice your life to save the world." Snape gave a sardonic smirk. "I'd understand if you want to disown me."

Harry sucked in breath. "Martyr? Sacrifice? I... Dad, I don't want... press? Oh, God."

He narrowed his eyes. "Calm yourself. It's just the press. You knew you wouldn't be able to escape it -"

But then it all came crashing in on Harry. "Do they know how I — I killed Voldemort?"

"Yes." Snape winced. "They know. Because it was Dark Magic, you might be charged with -"

"No. No tribunal, no court, not like last time." Harry hissed out a breath. "I can'd do this. I can't be Harry Potter. You've got to do something... You said I could choose, Dad, you said I didn't have to be Harry Potter, we could make it look like Harry Potter died -"

He nodded slowly. "I thought you'd ask that. But I wanted to know if you're sure. You can't tell your friends, if you do this, not for a good long time. You can't tell anyone. Even the Headmistress must think Harry Potter is dead. She's no Dumbledore, she can't keep the secrets he did — and she shouldn't."

There was a banging on the door. "Do it," Harry said. "Whatever you do — just do it."

"Professor Snape? It's Hermione! I want to see Harry, please let me in! The monitor, it said he's awake!" She pounded on the door again.

"Stand," Snape whispered. He grabbed a pillow from a nearby bed and set it in Harry's place as he wobbled slowly to his feet. He helped Harry to take a seat on the next bed, then transfigured the pillow into the precise shape of Harry.

It was eerie to see the unmoving form on the bed. He felt as though he was at his own funeral — and in some ways, he was. "Are you certain?" his father asked again. "The transfigurations of your face will be permanent. You will be William Snape."

Harry pushed his way to his feet, finally steady, and nodded. "Do it."

Ignoring the door, Snape nodded. It took only two flicks of his wand, then one to change the hospital pyjamas into a simple, black sweater and slacks. A startling alarm filled the ward as Harry — William, now — turned and caught sight of his reflection in the window.

His hair was curly, like his mother's. His eyes were less piercingly emerald, and his chin sharper. The changes were small, but they made him seem quite different. Yet most startling was the utter lack of a defining scar on his forehead — in fact, the dummy on the bed was without it as well. "My scar?"

"Gone, with Voldemort," his father whispered.

"The alarm?"

Snape didn't need to answer. Madame Pomfrey came dashing from her office and rushed at the bed. "Severus! There aren't any heartbeats from the patient!"

He shot a somber look to his son, then turned to Poppy. "He woke, for a moment. And he smiled."

"Merlin. Oh, Merlin." The nurse collapsed on the floor. Harry was in shock — his death would affect the staff this much?

He had a brief moment of regret. Taking a step toward the nurse, he stuttered, "I- I'm sorry- I -"

His father restrained him. "Don't. William, don't."

He froze, and Madame Pomfrey looked up with a tearstained face. "Severus...? Who is...?"

"My son," Snape noted. "Harry was his cousin. I brought him as Harry's last family."

William sank back, letting his father take the lead. He stared over at the body on the bed, then, and wondered what this new life would bring. He was the son of a hated man, but he was free — finally free.

He had no time to ponder it, as the door was thrown open. Hermione rushed in, with Ron and Ginny on her heels and Blaise trailing close behind. Harry started to speak, but she rushed straight past him and grabbed the stiff hand of the body on the bed. "No!" she shrieked, and Ron threw his arms around her. Harry averted his face from agony too painful to witness. He stumbled toward the door rather than face his friends with his new face.

And there, in his field of vision, were two shoes. He glanced up to find Luna hanging in the doorway. "He's dead?" she whispered.

Harry nodded slowly, not trusting himself to speak. Luna looked over to the bed and he started to sidestep her, but she turned back to him. Their eyes met for a long moment, and Luna's widened in shock. "Harry?"

He choked. "William," he said quickly. "William Snape. H-Harry was my cousin."

"You have your father's eyes," she said simply. "Your father's eyes and your mother's mouth."

"How did you know?"

Luna smiled. "I've always watched you. You didn't think you could fool me, did you?" She stepped forward and slipped her arms around him. "I won't tell."

William hugged back. "I'll tell them, but not — not yet." As soon as Blaise heard the name, he'd know of the deception, but the others... they needed to come to terms with things. They'd be the ones interviewed, and Ron could never keep a secret... he felt dirty, but at the same time, so liberated...

He held Luna in his arms and noticed his father at his shoulder, smiling softly. Hermione's sobs, Ginny's moans, and Ron's wails lingered in the background, but he forced himself to turn a deaf ear. This was his life now; this was his new chance. The Boy Who Lived was no more, the hero wasn't saved, but William Augustus Snape had a new chance in a world free from Voldemort's tyranny.

Perhaps Divination had its merit after all.