I am a firm believer in the fact that Severus Snape is on the side of good, not necessarily a good guy, but definitely on the side of light. However, there are times when you just want to look at the slightly darker sides of the characters.

Disclaimer: Do you really think JK would do this to her characters?

To Stand Alone

Tom Marvolo Riddle, otherwise known as Lord Voldemort, stood at the window looking out at the streams of light that rent the air over the graveyard. The manor was under siege, and from the way those battle lights were drawing nearer, his Death Eaters weren't going to last much longer. The renowned 'Order of the Phoenix', led by Harry Potter, were slowly driving them back. Through the boy's scar, Tom could feel the rage that drove him on, unstoppable. It wouldn't be long now.

He turned his head slightly at the sound of footsteps. Severus Snape stepped up beside him, standing confidently with him, as an equal. Only Severus had that raw nerve, that utter conviction in his right to stand unbowed. Tom nodded at him, smiling, an acknowledgement of pride, of pleasure.

'It won't be long now,' Severus stated softly.

'I know.'

'He's gotten stronger.'

'Yes.' And I've gotten weaker was the unspoken clarification.

They watched the routing outside. Death Eaters were beginning to break and run, only to be caught again almost immediately by the fanatical opposing forces. Tom was mildly disappointed.

'You betrayed me, didn't you?' he asked casually.

'Oh, yes.'

'You gave them what they needed, the Horcruxes, the spur of rage to egg them on?'

Severus nodded.

'Do they know?'

'Please. I am an evil second only to you in their eyes. Perhaps even more, since you at least did not betray them and murder their leader.'

Tom smiled. 'Seem to be betraying a lot of people recently, don't you, Severus?'

His companion laughed. 'Oh, yes. The ultimate double agent. I've played both sides so well, for so long, that neither really knows what I am, who I stand with, what I'll do. No-one trusts me, no-one knows me, no-one will care when I die. The only thing I've done for this war is have fun making people's heads spin.' He winked at Tom. 'And what fun it is, too.'

Tom had to laugh. 'You're going to die for your fun, you do know that, don't you?'

'Yes. Always have.'

'I should kill you.'

'You should.'

'If I don't, they will.'

'Yes, and what a waste that would be.'

'I love you.'

'I know.'

'Why did you betray me?' No answer. 'Severus, we're both going to die. Just now, just this once, tell me what side you truly stand on.'

Severus looked at him long and hard. 'Truly? Neither. I fought for both because I believed in neither. The only side I've ever been on is my own. The only master I've ever served is myself. The only prize I've ever sought is the furthering of my own knowledge. I'm on no-one's side. I stand alone.'

Tom gazed out the window solemnly. 'I noticed you because you never shied. I tortured you because you never screamed. I bedded you because you never begged. I loved you because you never bowed. I love you still because you stand beside me and calmly tell me you betrayed me. I love you, Severus Snape, because you are your own.'

He laid his hands on either side of his lover's face, cupping the alabastor visage with its eyes like pools of night, longing to slip into them and drown. 'I love you,' he whispered.

Slowly, Severus reached up to lay his own hands atop his, black eyes meeting red. 'I love you too, Tom. For all that you're a heartless, egotistical bastard with snake-features and no hair. I love you, and I don't want Potter to kill you.' Tom stared. Well ... It was official, then. They were definitely going to die. Severus never, ever spoke his feelings aloud. Ah, well.

'Heartless? Snake-features? Oh, Severus. And after I complimented you like I did. You've hurt me so.' Severus laughed. Below them came the sound of the main door shattering, and the battle entered the house. They looked at each other.

'You know,' said Severus thoughtfully. 'It would really muck up their naive, black-and-white little view of the world if the Dark Lord didn't go out in ferocious battle with the hero. If there was no-one to cheer because nothing was done worth cheering for.' Tom looked at him curiously. 'What did you have in mind?'

'I don't want Potter to kill you. We have to die, but that brat isn't laying a single curse on you. So...' He pulled out his wand. Cautiously, Tom did the same. 'Together?' Severus whispered. Swallowing, Tom nodded. Carefully, almost reverently, they laid their wands to each other's temples. They stood there for a long moment. Then, with a frustrated sigh, Tom lowered his. Severus raised a questioning eyebrow. Tom looked away for a moment, gathering his nerves. Strange that he could rape the man with no ill effects, but for this he was nervous as a schoolboy. 'Ah, hell,' he muttered, and pulled Severus forward into one last, desperate kiss. Severus stiffened in shock, then melted, responding with a passion that caught Tom off guard. They deepened it until white flashed before their eyes, then, regretfully, they broke apart.

They stood regathering wayward senses, both panting slightly. Tom felt rather flushed. You didn't get that from forcing them. Pity he had to learn that just before dying. Oh, well. At least he'd gotten that much. With no more hesitation, they raised their wands once again. 'Goodbye,' Severus whispered. 'Goodbye, love,' he replied.

When Harry burst into the room about half an hour later, the Order hot on his heels, he found them, arms clasped, bodies still warm in each other's embrace. A pair of faint smiles graced dead lips.

Together, as equals, in death.