He ran up the stairs, they were ahead of him; the Death Eaters and Draco. Draco; the one uncontrollable variable in all of this, the one young man who could ruin everything, all the carefully laid plans. He reached the door and threw it open, Dumbledore had half fallen, propped against the wall, he was pale and so weak looking, it was frightening how this man, who had been the one great power for good in this world for as long as Severus could remember - for longer then he'd been alive - could look so weak and powerless now, when they needed him so much. He swept past the others, ignoring the four Death Eaters, thrusting Draco out of the way, he stepped right up to Dumbledore, stared at his deeply etched face, anger filled him, fury that once again he was placed in this position, all choice taken from him, "damn you Dumbledore" he thought as he aimed the wand at the mans withered chest "Avada Kadavra!"
The body flew up and over the battlements, already dead, the limbs flying limply. "Out of here, quickly", he turned, grabbing a shocked looking Draco on his way out, he hurried back down the stairs, barely pausing to jinx the short chubby Longbottom boy from his path. Down the corridor, heading towards the front doors. Potter was following, he heard the shouted curses as Amycus and Alectro tried to stop him… stupid boy - he could never keep his nose out of things.
"Stupefy!" Potters hastily thrown jinx flew over his right shoulder; "Run, Draco!" He watched a second as the blonde boy he had known since birth, his godson, ran to safety.
"Cruc-" He turned to face Harry, blocking his curse and knocking him flying to the ground, "Cruc-" He shouted again, and again Severus blocked him "No unforgivable curses from you, Potter!" Resentment flew through him that this stupid boy - after all the lessons Dumbledore had tried to instil in him - still threw unforgivable curses around as soon as he lost his temper. He was just like his father, both thought rules were below them. "Incarc-" again Severus blocked the hastily thrown spell, "Fight back! Fight back, you cowardly-"
He felt himself losing control as this boy, who looked so like his arrogant, self-satisfied father, dared call him cowardly! He had no idea…
"Coward, did you call me, Potter? Your father would never attack me unless it was four on one, what would you call him, I wonder?" Why couldn't he let it go? It had happened so long ago, but his brown hair that stuck up at the back, his face, everything about him just reminded him… but his eyes… Lily's eyes.
Curse after curse he blocked, tormenting James… "no, Harry" he corrected himself. The last Death Eater came running, on his way past shouting "Crucio!" Harry fell screaming to the grass, Snape's heart skipped in his chest, rage filling him "No!" He blocked the curse, and suddenly realised the Death Eater was staring at him, suspicion on his broad pale face, "have you forgotton our orders? Potter belongs to the dark lord – we are to leave him! Go! Go!" The mans face cleared as he turned and ran, leaving Snape staring at the boy crumpled in the grass, Harry whimpered and struggled to his feet, his face filled with hatred "Sectum-" Snape blocked the curse with a flick of his wand, how dare he! How dare he use that curse, that curse he had created himself with months of experimentation and research and hard work! He felt the thought build up behind Harry's next spell, the non-verbal Levicorpus and again blocked a spell that he himself had created so many years ago… "No Potter!" He cursed the boy and watched him fly through the air, wand flying from his hand, he followed him and stood over him as he lay on the grass, staring up at him in hatred and anger, feeling the same hatred and anger burning on his own face "you dare use my own spells against me, Potter? It was I who invented them – I, the Half-Blood Prince! And you'd turn my inventions on me, like your filthy father, would you? I don't think so… no!" He hexed the wand away from the boys reaching hand as Harry dived for it "Kill me then" the boy panted, face full of contempt "kill me like you killed him you coward –"
"DON'T -" He felt the word torn from him, felt his stomach clench as it always did when he remembered… the wreck of a house, blood, knowing it was his tip-off that had caused it… the boy was staring at him, accusing, hating him with his mothers eyes "-CALL ME COWARD!" he finished, hating his weakness, hating the strong mix of emotions this boy always caused in him. He slashed his wand, causing the boy to call out and fly backwards as the spell whipped him with invisible ropes – then there was a seconds warning as he heard strong wings beat the air above his head, he looked up just as the claws slashed at him, ripping a tear in his robes. Turning he ran, pursued by the huge creature he recognized as a hippogriff. As soon as he left the gates he turned and was gone in a flash of robes, reappearing at the same time in a small dark room.
He fell onto the old bed which creaked under his weight. He couldn't go back, not yet. His mind was racing, he was confused, angry, emotional; occlumency was all but impossible in this state of mind. He just needed a few minutes to collect himself. The Dark Lord would wonder why, but he could hardly question his loyalty now, after 5 witnesses had just seen him blast Dumbledore off the face of the earth.
Her face swam before his eyes, strangely blurry, until he realised his eyes were filled with tears. It had been so long since he's cried. Almost, these days, it felt like he'd forgotten how. He spent so long being who he wasn't; sometimes even he forgot who he really was. "Lily," he whispered her name, remembering her green eyes… his eyes. The blurry face metamorphosised slowly into the longer paler face of Harry. "If I'd only known, if I'd only heard a second more of that damn prophesy, things would have been so different. I never wanted you to die"
"But she'd still be with him…" a sneaky traitorous voice whispered in the back of his mind, and again he felt the black tide of anger and hate fill him.
"Severus" The voice was quiet, obviously not wanting to interrupt, as his eyes cleared and he looked up at the pearly white semi-transparent form with its long white beard.
"Dumbledore. Why must I play this part?"
"You are the only one who can."
"But it is hard. I don't know if I hate him because he is his, or love him because he is hers. But I know he hates me, and I don't care, until he looks at me with those eyes. Then I care very much."
"I know Severus. But you are not the only one to make sacrifices in this war. We all suffer, so hopefully, one day, no-one will have to. You know what you must do now?"
"Yes. I must go to him. And you? Will you go to them? Will you tell them not to hate me?"
"Now is not the time. They must mourn me, it is necessary that they accept I am gone. But one day they will all know the sacrifices you have made Severus – I promise you that. For now, Goodbye. Good luck old friend"
The white form disappeared in a sweep of transparent robes, and the man composed his face and his mind to once again face the Dark Lord he fought to overthrow.