WARNING: SPOILERS! From here on...


A/N: I got a lot of good reviews to my other, immediate post H-BP drabble. Sigh. It seems that a lot of people want to kill JKR, or are also feeling Dementors have been lurking rather close... I think I'm stil in shock about Dumbledore, but I feel betrayed by Snape. And I feel such a fool, that I saw some good in my favourite character. Sigh. Oh, the humanity. And then, very late at night (unable to sleep even 6 hours after reading the book), a small idea struck. Here I am, to share it with you. If anyone finds a plausible fic that gives hope, please let me know... Also, feelings of Les Miserables' 'Red and Black' are growing in me now (sans mushy Marius lines). And now I don't like what I have written. But reviewing is great!

Dumbledore had always been going on about choices.

It's not who you are born as, but who you choose to be.

Snape already knew this. And he had made his choices, long ago. Irretrievable.

And he had hated Dumbledore - hated his honour and bravery and noble righteousness. Even as Snape aimed his wand straight at the man's chest, the symbol of Voldemort above them, hate contorting his vision, he knew the choice had already been made.

And - Potter. Snape was not a coward. He was Slytherin, yes, but he did not rush into things and make foolhardy errors.

There had been two points in his life where he felt he might have made mistakes. One, when he had pretended to join Dumbledore and his cursed Order of the Phoenix. Two, when he betrayed the man with death. Dumbledore had told Snape he could offer him freedom and protection. Snape could have laughed. He knew it not to be true. Regulus Black had seen all too well what happened when you failed or tried to escape the Dark Lord.

Snape knew there was no return. There would be no redemption for him, even should he choose it. Even Potter, foolish, blinded, self-righteous hero Potter could hold no sympathy for his soul.

And the boy had called him a coward.

Perhaps he truly was, Snape decided.

He had been too coward to kill Dumbledore's true man. Snape could tell himself that Potter was to be left for the Dark Lord and the Dark Lord alone, and could argue that his Slytherin cunning, in other words, this cowardice, kept him alive.

Snape wondered on the point of his life, and what purpose he held. Dumbledore had once complimented him on his remorse after the Potters' deaths, that after all he had been through, he could still feel. Well, what did Snape feel now?

It was strange how he and Potter were both as slaves to masters. Dumbledore and the Dark Lord.

Snape knew, because of the so-called choices he had made, that at least one of his several masters would clench hold on him forever. He could be certain of only one final outcome, that the Dark Lord had always been trying to conquer.

Snape's master, at the last, would be death. No matter where else his choices led him.