Summary: Severus Snape knows how he will die.
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter series is JKR's fantastic work, not mine. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money has (or will) exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.
Author's Notes: Thanks go to my beta, Riffinton.
Set during the first Voldemort war, probably about 3 to 6 months before Voldemort tried to kill Harry.----------------------------------
He spends his days attempting to teach the subtleties of potion-making to prattling students who cannot hope to understand the intricacies of his art. He spends his evenings alone by choice, but too often that choice is taken from him and he is called to Voldemort's side. He plays a dangerous game, lingering on the very edge of safety, giving away as few of Dumbledore's secrets as he can but forced to give away more than he would wish. And it is never enough: he is always punished.
He stumbles back through the corridors of Hogwarts late at night, avoiding the few patrolling teachers and prefects, and hastens to the solitude of his rooms as fast as his battered body will allow. He sinks painfully into his most comfortable chair, he drinks more painkiller than is recommended, and he writes a report of the meeting with cramping fingers.
And then, when his aching body allows him to sleep, Severus dreams.
It is always the same dream on these nights, always this one same dream. It began in his seventh year, two months after the Dark Mark was scorched onto his skin and into his soul, two days after he realised just how terrible a mistake he had made. It is a common thing among the males of his line to have these dreams, even though no Snape has ever been a seer: it is given to them to know the most probable way in which they will die. Severus has seen his own death.
In his dream, Severus is given a choice. There are two opponents, the champions of Dark and Light, who face off with him standing between them. One, it took him many dreams to realise, is Voldemort, twisted and mutilated and no longer human. The other is a boy, barely seventeen, a boy who looks like James Potter but for haunted green eyes that are too old for his face.
Severus stands between them, wand in hand, and has to make a choice. If he attacks the boy-who-is-not-Potter, Voldemort wins and he will survive. But if he sides against Voldemort the boy will win and Severus will die.
His life or death will decide the fate of the wizarding world. His choice.
He hates it.
The dream always brings him jolting into wakefulness, feeling a pain that is greater than any that Voldemort could hope to inflict. Because there is only one choice that he can make, only one choice that he can consider making, and as he takes the curse meant for the boy-who-looks-like-Potter he feels himself die, he feels death reach out to catch him in icy, burning tendrils, and in the moment before the horror of an eternity of non-life can sweep him away, he wakes, gasping into an empty room. But even as he wakes, he can feel death waiting for him, feel its disappointment as he slips out of its reach. He does not want to die.
One day the boy will come to Hogwarts. One day Severus will come face-to-face with the boy he will give his life for.
He is only human: he will hate the boy.Fin