Disclaimer: The characters, all known events and most of the lines in italics belong to the great J. K. Rowling.
Author notes: This is a little writing experiment of mine... And I have to warn you: I've very purposefully ignored the rules of storytelling and structure for this fic, and I had the time of my life doing so. So, as always, if you understand nothing, you're most probably sane.
The deepest, most desperate
Gold. Gold and more gold, and life, enough life for all the gold.
The two things most human beings would choose above all... humans do have a knack for choosing precisely those things which are worst for them.
Human life. Barely human at all.
Snape, standing with his back to the mirror. He did know by then that the deepest desire, the one craving written onto the surface of the very soul is never altruistic. It is what self is; the blueprint, the essence.
Albus Dumbledore, hiding life behind desire, the perfect shield. Few knew he used to brew life just as well, and gold, enough gold for all the life, or rather everyone knew but few realized what it meant. It was a chocolate-stained truth, traded by children's hands, Dumbledore the Alchemist, somewhere between Dumbledore the Great and The Only One He Ever Feared. It was a long time ago, before wisdom had come and he had turned his back on eternal life. He believed in second chances.
So, Snape thought, it had been only natural for Dumbledore to trust him; one disgusted with all the life, one disgusted with all the death, turning and meeting in the middle.
Severus Snape, the Potions master, who brew death in all tastes and colours, who was scared of the middle, of the void in it. A story should not begin in the middle, there had to be a beginning to understand.
In the beginning, Albus Dumbledore had been an Alchemist.
In the beginning, Severus Snape had been a boy with an old Potions book.
In the beginning.
He remembered standing deep down below the surface, watching the two old friends talk.
...and agreed it's all for the best.
Fighting with their deaths, fighting the one who fought death, fighting so there would be life. (Don't turn around.) Destroying desire, while they were at it. (Don't turn.) So much wisdom, yet how painfully bought? He wondered, then, what Dumbledore really saw... something he'd lost because he'd turned, something he'd lost because he'd turned too late, something he'd never had? He'd be such a lonely man, with Nicolas gone.
With the Dark Mark, he had never been alone, always ready, always alert. On this side of the coin, he'd realized, people always came as Ones. The One He Feared. The Chosen One. One is perfect. One is eternal.
Unfixed, mutating, indestructible.
Snape, standing with his back to the mirror. He'd always somehow lived other people's lives, and only realized it when he'd learned he was afraid of their deaths. (Whatever you do, just don't turn around.)
The middle, the middle was for living, for falling and rising and falling and everything that came in between. The middle was for choices.
Our choices are what matters, nothing else.
And our desires?
Humans can choose against their desires.
Yes, but for how long?
Some things just had to be done, and they'd made their choices. Failure was human, Lord, yes, they knew, but they simply could not afford failure. And they could not pretend they were not afraid...yet they continued to do so.
A boy with a porcelain mask.
A man with a scowl.
A man with a smile.
Meeting. Falling. Rising. Living?
They sat in the darkness and drank to the failure of the inhuman.
I told him he was looking in the wrong places ... I could not show him the right places, though.
So much wisdom...
The middle was neither reason nor result, just so very human one simply had to be afraid.
There had to be an ending for redemption.
In the end...
In the end...
The Alchemist, the Potions master and the boy with the book, they all had become men of war. They had made a bargain, back then, to go back to the point from which they had meant to return, to conserve/consume life and death in order to wash their hands clean.
And now, Dumbledore was breaking it. Breaking in. Coward.
Snape felt betrayed. Angry.
...can't do this to me.
...can't do this to Potter.
He thought he was deep when in fact he was desperate, and gave him socks for Christmas. He could not possibly...
You agreed to do it, and that is all there is to it.
He knew he'd never had a chance.
He would be the One Who Killed Dumbledore. He would be a One.
There had to be an ending for redemption. There had to be pain, for it was pain that brought wisdom, not age or knowledge. In his pain, he thought it fitting for Dumbledore to find his death through him. Him, who had begged for all the lives he was saving.
In his pain, Dumbledore might always have known it would be like that. Some things have to be done, and then Dumbledore calls for his...
Just as much as I am.
The deepest, most desperate desire is never altruistic. It really shouldn't have been a surprise.
In the end...
One disgusted, one dead.
The One Who Did It.
Dumbledore the Alchemist, and life, all the unlived.
Snape, standing with his back to the mirror.