Title: Harry Potter and the Summer From Hell

Author: Ladye Black

Rating: T+

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters herein that relate to the Harry Potter books. I do, however, own those that do not…if there are any.

Notes: This is the last chapter. It's very short, but it's been too long in coming and I'm not sure what else I can really add, so I decided to just post it so you all would have an end. Thank you to all of those that have read this, new and old, and to those that have stuck with me through long waits. You've all been wonderful. ^_^

Chapter 30

Waking up was unexpected. At least, Severus thought he was waking up. All he really knew was a deep, pervading darkness and a sense of self-awareness. Surely these were not things that someone would experience when dead. Then again, never having died before, he couldn't be sure. While his unique heritage gave him a better understanding of the world and what lie within it, the secrets of death were still beyond him. He was fairly certain, however, that it shouldn't hurt.

That thought stopped him for a moment. Pain? When had he started feeling it? Where had it come from? He searched for the source of the pain, and found himself going deeper into the black. And then once again, he knew no more.

When he awoke again, it was to blinding light. He tried to raise a hand to shield his eyes, but only managed a minute twitch. He groaned instead. If this were Hell, someone was doing a good job of torturing him. The light was painful. He groaned again. Maybe they would take pity on him.

"Oh! You're awake! Shit, the curtains!" He couldn't quite place the voice, but knew it was familiar.

"Nn," he managed. The light went away. Blinking- did dead people do that? - he found that he could vaguely make out shapes. The shapes resolved themselves more and more into things one would expect to find in a hospital. White curtains, white walls, and a clock monitoring his living status as somewhere between 'Alive' and 'In Pain.' One thing that someone would not expect to see in a hospital room was the Harry Potter moving towards him with a glass of water.

"Here, drink this." He held the straw up to Snape's lips. Gratefully, the older man took a few sips before pulling back.

"What happened?" he inquired lowly, his voice rusty from disuse.

Harry licked his lips before speaking. "Well, you died. Right after you finished tearing away Voldemort's soul, yours separated from your body. I basically had to stuff your soul back in your body and hold it in until someone could revive you."

"And the Death Eaters?"

"I…" Harry's brow furrowed. "It was odd. We expected them to all die, or come to their senses, or scream in agony…any one of those things. Not all of them. Not more than that. The ones that lived are in Azkaban."

Severus nodded. Harry looked at him suspiciously. "You knew that would happen?"

"I'd suspected for some time that Voldemort had never really perfected the Mark." Snape spoke grimly. "It was unimaginably painful for those of us to get it, in the beginning. Then it was only painful for some, others just felt heat, or ice cold, where the Mark was. There were many different reactions. Marking people, Wizards and Witches in particular, was never really a developed magic."

"Oh." Potter looked dazed.

The door opened, allowing a Medi-witch to enter. "Oh!" she exclaimed quietly. "You're awake!"

"So it seems," Snape commented dryly.

"Well, let me just run a few diagnostic spells on you," she said, unperturbed. "If everything looks well, I'll let in a few of your other visitors. There's a quite a crowd cluttering the hallway." She seemed more amused than upset.

A few quick spells later, the Medi-witch clucked in approval. "Everything looks as normal as it can be for someone that came back from the dead. You're well on the mend." She smiled at Snape. "I'll let a few of your more…enthusiastic supporters in. But only for a few moments."

"Joy. Why is this one here?" he asked, indicating with a wave of his hand at Potter.

For the first time since entering his room, she frowned slightly. "We couldn't get him to leave. And when we finally did force him out, he found a way back in. It ended up being easier on the hospital staff to let him take care of you." She left, presumably to tell his admirers in the hallway the good news of his recovery.

Snape fixed his gaze on Potter. "Wouldn't leave, hm?"

Potter had the grace to look slightly embarrassed. "I was worried. You'd died, and…" he trailed off before straightening. "I love you. And whether you lived, or died, or became a vegetable, I wanted to be by your side." Harry's attempt at levity didn't detract from the seriousness of his confession. "I still want to be by your side. The question is…do you want to be by mine?"

A serious question; one that deserved a serious answer. A serious answer that came to Severus immediately. "Yes."

The smile that lit Harry's face was brighter than the light that Severus had first awoken to. And then the circus trundled in.

It wasn't an actual circus of course, but the variety of color brought in by the people that visited made it hard on Severus' eyes. Bright Weasley red, Dumbledore's sparkles, and Potter's gleaming green eyes; it was more than he could take. Slowly, under all the praise and well-wishing, Severus quietly fell asleep, more at peace than he had ever been in his life.