Plot, new characters, new magical terms and abilities etc. are my intellectual property. If you want to borrow then please kindly ask. JK Rowling's characters and Wizarding Universe are all uniquely hers.

Summary:

One-Shot Short Story. Severus Snape's point of view about love and life and how one gives meaning to the other. Features: Snape, OC (def not Tonks!)

Author's Notes: I started this long before Book 6. And now given certain events in Canon I feel inspired enough to finish it… I always knew what the end result would be and what the crux of the story was.

COMPLETE

Rated PG-13/T.

Love & Life

by NativeMoon

24th December 1996

I have only survived the second war this long because of her. I love her and she loves me and together we found a reason to get through these dark times. She is my reason for living and I am hers.

She was not the best student at potions, but she was not the worst either. In any case it does not matter. Proficiency in the exact art and subtle science that is potions making was not a requirement for my interest to be piqued when it comes to affairs of the heart. Although, truth be told this was only the second time in my life when the earth so moved.

I will not bore you with the details of the first.

It pales in significance.

Back to the matter at hand; she loves art and music – being creative. Many had been the time I would come across her hiding away within the castle or grounds of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry from her meddlesome Ravenclaw housemates and other annoying friends from Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Slytherin. Sketchbook and artbox in hand or playing her guitar. She writes lyrics and poetry. A very talented young lady with great potential in the arts; a high standard of which is severely lacking in our world.

I know of her potential because I was, and still am, the subject of quite a bit of her work.

Don't misunderstand me; I am not for one moment proposing that the reason I believed her to be so talented was because of her obvious affection for me. I am merely stating a fact. The truth is that she is very gifted – and needs the arts as much as we need air to breathe. She is an artist – plain and simple. Though nothing about the young lady is so plain and she most definitely is not simple.

The fact is, all things being equal we would have become lovers at Hogwarts. We were, in a way. There was love, deep abiding love, but without sex. Not so much as a kiss or holding hands. We couldn't; I was her professor and she was my student. I don't need to explain that any further.

For those that would propose that what has since come to fruition between us is highly inappropriate – walk even a few feet in our shoes let alone the proverbial mile before you cast your judgement.

Judgement.

So easy to judge and so difficult to live and let live.

Be that as it may, we are quite happy – extraordinarily happy – in each other's company. And we both believed that it was inevitable that we would finally be together once she left school. She wouldn't be a student anymore and I wouldn't be her teacher and we would have our chance. She wanted a normal life, resplendent with a family of her own. I wanted one or two children – she was determined to have at least five. I used to tease her about wanting me, of all people, to sire such a large brood let alone one child with her.

Wanting me.

How I used to torment her endlessly in the early days of our relationship about what it was that she saw in me; why she would waste her life with one so low as me. Knowing her as I did – as I still do – she most definitely was not a candidate for the psychiatric ward at St. Mungo's as Potter and his minions proposed ad nauseum.

Potter.

The reason why we are in this predicament.

Nevermind; I will get back to him.

25th December 1996.

Fate.

Fate is a fickle thing.

She had excelled in Defence Against the Dark Arts and gone on to become an Auror with the Ministry of Magic's intelligence service. And then resigned her position much to the consternation of her family and friends.

But I was not surprised.

I knew her better than anyone.

In giving in to the pressures of the Headmaster and becoming an Auror, she put herself directly in the sights of Voldemort and his Death Eaters. She was marked, even once she left the Ministry.

The hunter of Dark Wizards became the hunted.

She did her job the best she could even though she hated it. That is the kind of person she is. She gave her all even though it brought her nothing but misery.

However, she quit – and quite spectacularly.

She wanted to be with me, she said. She hated life on the run for the Ministry and just wanted to settle down. A normal life – well as normal as one can be in such dangerous times.

But there is one small problem.

I am, or was, in the Order of the Phoenix spying at great personal risk on Voldemort and his minions for the Headmaster. I am, or was, in Dumbledore's debt and he had no qualms in using that to his advantage.

And it cost him, and me – dearly.

Though The Chosen One and his minions will scarcely believe it, I was and still am on the right side; my side – not Dumbledore's or The Dark Lord's.

29th December 1996.

The Dark Lord.

Even now I cannot bear to give voice to his name – albeit in writing. The name of You-Know-Who; metaphysical terrorist and abomination of humankind.

The one who hunts us along with The Order of the Phoenix and the Aurors of the Ministry of Magic.

To write his name would be akin to signing my death warrant. The art of self-preservation still reigns supreme even in this darkest of hours. Karkaroff managed to survive for almost a year before his time ran out. Regulus Black lasted only a day. She and I have done better than a day, but I do not reasonably expect that we will be so fortunate as Kakaroff.

You know why; of course you do.

The whole of our world is in turmoil – everyone believing they and they alone are in possession of the facts. I have no doubt that even now Potter has not yet learned to keep his mouth shut and his mind closed. No, he has not – the Dark Lord still lives, even more powerful and deadly.

And he is closing in on us as surely as the rest.

She would not leave me. Even now with every opportunity to save herself (she is a Metamorphmagus) she will not give up on me. She fled with myself and Draco Malfoy that night. Just as we reached the outer perimeter of the castle gates after Dumbledore's death she grabbed onto us and Disapparated. It most certainly saved us; I have no doubt of that. The former Auror turned traitor and gave up any hope of resuming a most promising career had she so desired with that one ill-considered act. I know that her family and Dumbledore had been increasing the pressure for her to rejoin the senior ranks of the Ministry. I can only imagine the reaction of her colleagues and those on Dumbledore's side when she saved myself and Malfoy the younger. We know that her family has disowned her – and though I can scarcely believe it, she does not care.

She chose me.

We stayed at the home she had in the mountains (not known to anyone) until Malfoy turned traitor. Stereotypically Slytherin to the end, wanting desperately to be his father but with no real hope of ever achieving such infamy. Malfoy the younger is a coward, a bully and a pretender to his father's undeniably tarnished throne – I risked everything so that he would not turn killer and shatter his immortal soul. I made an Unbreakable Vow scarcely realising what it was I was committing myself to do in the end.

Committing myself to yet another betrayal on the part of someone I risked everything for.

I should not have cared what the Dark Lord's former Number One thought but I did, of course I did. Had I not then I would not have made the Vow which has led us to our current circumstance. Bellatrix Lestrange's mere presence was enough to ensure that I would go through with it. Perhaps that is what she meant by her overbearing presence at her sister's side; she of course knew what her sister meant to do when they found me at my former home in Spinner's End. Her sister who is the wife of Lucius Malfoy – the man so many believe to be such a dear friend to me.

Perish the thought.

31st December 1996

Me – I do not matter.

My soul spilt long ago – first into two, then quadrupling. I have lost count of how many times I condemned myself before 'seeing the light' and going to Dumbledore. The old man was nobody's fool; his only weakness was always believing the best of people that perhaps he should not have. Mundungus Fletcher comes to mind; Sirius Black and Remus Lupin.

There is more to many in the Order than meets the eye.

But history will not care about that any more than it will be kind to me.

I was tolerated amongst the Order and at the school only for Dumbledore's sake because of the need to protect Harry Potter; the Chosen One. One that so many feared was the next Dark Lord in the beginning, but who has over time proven to be most unremarkable indeed, save for the scar on his forehead. The feats achieved in preserving his life could not have been done without me. None amongst Dumbledore's followers would have ever dared to consider such a thing when he was alive. I am no dunderhead such as to believe that his death will change that.

I know what you all think – what you all believe.

You believe that I killed him.

But to kill with an Unforgivable one has to truly mean it.

He was dead from the poison which coursed through his veins long before his body hit the ground after somersaulting over the parapets of the Astronomy Tower. We had an agreement between us – and it was necessary for me to keep that agreement so as to not reveal to the Death Eaters present that I had, in effect, turned traitor.

I had turned traitor against the Dark Lord.

Oh there will be many who will argue against my truth. They did it throughout my life and I am sure it will continue long after my death.

1st January 1997

I was doomed; doomed from the very beginning though I could not see it.

You see, Dumbledore withheld a crucial piece of the puzzle from me: I did not know that the Dark Lord had cursed the Defence Against the Dark Arts position at Hogwarts. If he could not have it then no one would. No one who took up the mantle would last in the position longer than one year.

So it was written, so was it done.

That curse extended to me as well under my tenure as teacher in those hallowed walls. Dumbledore knew, oh how he did know – and despite all that I had risked for him and his precious Order he did not see fit to tell me the truth. Not even when I took up the role I had coveted for so long. I was fool to believe that after biding my time with my beloved Potions for so long, I was at last being rewarded with the opportunity to ensure that this generation did not turn from the light and was prepared for this second reign of darkness.

Every year for fifteen tediously long years I applied for the role and every year for fifteen tediously long years I was summarily rejected without so much as a 'by your leave'. The Headmaster apparently thought it would bring out the worst of my old Death Eater habits.

I could say that I don't know whether to laugh or to cry; however as neither is intrinsic to my mercurial nature…

She never believed that. She encouraged me; believed in me; supported me.

Dumbledore did not keep me alive in the end.

She did.

But she is gone from me now. Her passing unremarkable to anyone save me. I held her tight in the darkness of this freezing dunghill of a cave in the Outer Hebrides which had become our home as the clock struck Midnight. I told her how much I loved her – after all these years I was finally able to verbalise those three little words which meant so much to me whenever she said them to me. She never held my romantic immaturity against me. She knew me better than anyone and understood that a harsh life and character such as mine did not naturally lend itself to the hearts, flowers and rose-coloured notions that her sex attaches to love. I once told her that if we should part and I had been unable to tell her that I loved her, then she would know it was because I did not have time.

It should not have taken her dying in my arms before the last chime of the clocks at the New Year for me to find the courage to admit what I had long known to be true.

God how I loved her!

I still do.

And without her I am lost.

I was lost and then I was found.

Now I am lost once more.

And I do not want to go on without her.

Think me weak. Think what you like.

But consider what you believe you know of me.

And consider how redeemed I must have been, to give up the ghost because of a precious and true love found and then lost.

My selfishness has killed her as assuredly as any curse fired from my wand.

How?

Had I not wanted her so much; had I not needed the reassurance of her presence and the serenity of her love in the midst of so much chaos, my immortal beloved would still be alive.

My Immortal Beloved.

She is that and so much more.

Is; not was.

She was true to herself and to me even until the end.

If you must condemn anyone, then condemn me as you will surely do regardless. The black marks against my name are numerous; let her name go on unblemished.

So great was her love that she lay down her life for me to save mine. She saved my life; but I cannot go amongst the living without her by my side – even on the run.

I am like the living dead without her.

And given that untenable fact I might as well be dead.

Death.

I welcome it now.

I see them, scrambling up the mountainside like vermin on the scent of a crumb or two.

I will not give up entirely, not without a considerable fight before they finally achieve their goal: the Veil in the Department of Mysteries. The Dark Lord, the Order and the Ministry of Magic – the Veil would be my final epitaph regardless of the winner victorious.

But it will not come to that.

I will hold on to my love and will be removed from this mortal coil in the sanctity of her arms.

Published reports and records, whispered hearsay and idle gossip will tell a different story.

And of course the usual dunderheads will accept lies for truth. I am a Slytherin after all. Given the choice, we will always do what we must to save our own necks regardless of the cost.

Well – there are always exceptions to every stereotype and this extends to me.

My time is short.

I am far more culpable for my actions, for I did know love in the way the Dark Lord and even Harry Potter did not.

I had the love of my mother.

And though it should have saved me, in the end it did not.

My mother was no Lily Evans, but deserved to be immortalised every bit as much. She would tell you her story herself – but she is no longer amongst the living to do so.

My father saw to that.

Addendum:

It was Her love that saved me and brought purpose to my empty life for the short time we had together.

My time is nigh.

If you must take one thing from the outpourings of my wounded spirit, then understand the following:

Life without love, like a death without meaning, is pointless.

Life without love breeds contemptible creatures such as myself and the Dark Lord.

May you not travel down the road I have, and may you not inflict the torment on others that I have had to suffer in order to know and accept that immutable fact.

So say I.

Severus Tobias Snape

Former Potions Master,
Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor,
& Head of Slytherin House
Hogwarts School of Witc– --------------------------