The preacher talked at me and he smiled.
Said come walk with me, and we'll walk one more mile.
Now for once in your life you're alone, but you ain't got a damn,
There's no time for the phone.
I just got to get a message to you.

Harry looked up at Ron and forced himself to focus on the redhead's voice, "So should we try to find Hermione before bed, mate?"

"No thanks," Harry shook his head. He knew what had to be done, and had been putting it off for long enough. It wasn't worth taking the risk anymore.

As Ron left the room for bed Harry threw his dad's old invisibility cloak over his shoulders and left through the portrait hole.

Tonight, at midnight, he was going to do it.

Hold on, hold on.

Severus walked into his store cupboard and disbelief crossed his face. At one glance he could see that multiple ingredients were missing.

It had been probably about three weeks since he had last needed to come in here, and the first name that came to mind was, of course Potter.

It wasn't that he hated the boy, he just didn't like, or trust for that matter, the similarities between Potter's childhood and what he himself went through.

Not that Severus actually believed the stories he heard of abuse but sometimes a whisper did manage to turn his head.

Forcing himself to register what he was doing, Severus scanned the missing ingredients and a doubt of Potter's guilt began to niggle in his mind.

The only way these things could be used together were in a few very strong poisons.

As Severus stood there going over the potions, amounts and how long it took to brew them an idea occurred to him and he began to run, faster then he ever had before.

One more hour and my life will be through.

Harry stood in the middle of a small room on the third floor. It was the most private place he had been able to find, as far too many used the girls toilet on the second floor, these days. It had become a very popular place after Harry's second year.

Glancing at his watch, Harry noted that it was quarter past eleven. It would take ten minutes to bring the potion properly to heat, and then a further twenty to cool it to the temperature that it was meant to be drinkable at. If the potion was to hot, or to cold it would taste bitter and Harry wanted things to be as easy as possible.

That would take him till quarter to twelve. Then all Harry had to do was maintain the temperature until midnight.

At exactly twelve o'clock he was going to do it.

Hold on, hold on.

When Severus got to Lupin's office he was gasping for breath.

Instantly the werewolf was on his feet, looking concerned, "What's wrong, Severus? The last time I saw you so pale was during my third year."

"That Bell-snare root I asked you to look after, so that it was separate from the rest of my stock, " Severus said in between drawing huge lung fulls of air, "Have you still got all of it?"

"Well, its a funny thing you should ask that, " Lupin commented as he began making his way over to a cupboard in the corner.

"No, I don't want it," Severus said, raising his hand, "I just want to know if its still all there."

Lupin paused, "About half of it went missing, probably a week ago."

"Shit. Shit, shit, shit." Severus muttered mainly to himself, going pale at the same time. Then he looked at Lupin, "Some of my things are missing. Judging by the missing stock, I believe that there is a student in the school that is attempting to kill themselves. I want you to search to the left of the Great Hall, and I'll take the right. Be as quick as you can, and not a word to anyone."

"And if I find a potion, but with no-one near it?"

"Then bring it directly to my office, so that I can get rid of it safely."

I told him I'm in no hurry, but if I broke her heart then won't you tell her I'm sorry.
And for once in my life I'm alone.
And I got to let her know, just in time before I go.
I just got to get a message to you.

One of the main reasons Harry had put this off for so long was Ginny. He was well aware that his death would break her heart.

Harry had spent the last week privately saying goodbye to everyone, knowing that this moment was inevitable.

Harry felt the tears that had been threatening ever since he realized the truth, prickle behind his eyelids, and this time he let them fall.

Hell, it was about time he allowed himself some liberties. After all, in forty minutes or so he was going to be dead.

More than anything else Harry wished he had someone at his side rather than face this alone, but Harry knew that if he had told anyone they would have done everything possible to prevent it.

No. In the end this was the way it had to be.

Hold on, hold on.

In all of ten minutes Severus had thoroughly searched his half of the first floor. It was amazing what the fingers of panic could do for someone.

Severus knew from what he had read years ago, after making a very foolish mistake, that a potion of painless death worked best at midnight. That was what he thought was being mixed.

Even if this new brewer didn't know the time frame, midnight would seem like a reasonable time to take it. The moment the new day was born.

Which meant, Severus thought looking at his watch, that he had all of thirty-five minutes to find whoever was singing his or her own death warrant.

One more hour and my life will be through.

Harry took the cauldron off of the flame he had conjured.

His tears had subsided a minute ago and all Harry could feel now was a deep sense of relief at finally being in the final stage. Not just of his life, but of everything.

No one could deter him now.

Hold on, hold on.

Severus hit the stairs running, at the same time as Lupin.

"Same deal on the next level?" The werewolf asked, struggling to keep his breath under control.

"Yes," Severus said sharply, not wanting to waist precious time on useless words.

Not when someone's life would be the forfeit if the time ran out.

Well I laugh, but that didn't hurt.
And its only her love that keeps me wearing this dirt.
Now I'm crying, but deep down inside, well I did it to him.
Now its my turn to die.

If it hadn't been for Ginny, Harry knew he would have done this the moment he realized. And if truth were to be told, he had realized the moment he had taken Voldemort's life.

Ever since the final knowledge had been confirmed by a voice whispering darkly in the back of his mind Harry had felt dirty.

But that, he supposed, would be the natural reaction of anyone that had found out what he had.

I just got to get a message to you.

Once again, Harry felt tears welling up.

Sighing, he glanced down at his watch. Only half an hour to go.

Harry fell back into pacing and a single thought echoed through his mind. 'I love you, Ginny.'

Hold on, hold on.

The search of the second floor took another ten-minute bite out of the time to go till midnight.

Severus was painfully aware that there was only twenty minutes to go because climbing the stairs (both he and Lupin were now on the third floor) had taken all of five minutes.

Lupin, to Severus's great relief, was working at the same pace as he was. However, now that time was so close it was time for a new plan of action.

"Lupin, take the fourth floor and every second floor after that."

The werewolf knew there wasn't enough time to argue, but instead continued up the stairs.

Severus set off at a determined run along the corridor.

One more hour and my life will be through.

Even through his tears Harry was careful to keep an eye on the time.

It was quarter to twelve. All he had to do was keep the potion at this exact same temperature for the next fifteen minutes and then it would be over.

Harry chuckled bitterly as he pictured Snape standing over him, and imagined the old man's words, his harsh tone, "A simply task, Potter. Even with a skull as thick as yours it should be possible."

Hold on, hold on.

Severus neared the final place on the third floor that he hadn't checked. It was a disused classroom.

There were only five minutes to go. If whoever had been mixing the potion wasn't on this floor or the next and they were planning on doing it tonight, then the only reason to find them would be that no student had to see another body. There had been more than enough death in the war as it was.

Severus tried the door and felt a rush of relief as he realized it was locked.

Drawing his wand, Severus blasted the door open. There, in the middle of the room, back to the door, stood Potter. A clear potion was in the goblet that the boy held, and Severus could see a small cauldron resting on the ground behind him.

As Harry turned to face the cause of the disturbance Severus saw wet streaks on Potter's cheeks, evidence of tears. Following them up he took notice of the boy's eyes for the first time in months.

"Oh, Merlin," Severus breathed. Those eyes that for so long had been green were still mostly Lily's, but now they were also flecked black. His black.

Obviously, something had come from the one time he had slept with Lily.

Severus wasn't good at showing worry. He never had been and this time it came out as anger, "What the hell are you doing, boy? Do you even know what that is in your hand?"

Harry winced and drew back, momentary fear flashing over his face. Severus was once again reminded of the rumours he had heard, but the moment passed and Potter met his eye.

"I'm well aware what I've got," Harry said, answering Severus's second question first. Then, in reply to the second question, "I'm doing what has to be done. I'm ending the war. Its not like anyone needs me anymore, anyway."

"What do you mean by 'ending the war?' Severus asked, softening his tone. The last thing he wanted to do was push the child any further towards the point of no return. "The war was over when you killed the Dark Lord. And as for that 'no on needs me' crap, I can name one person that has just realized they do. There are also your friends. They will most assuredly kill you if you go through with this."

Harry chuckled at Severus's choice of words before glancing at his watch. Three minutes to midnight, "The war isn't over 'till I'm dead, Snape. When Voldemort failed to kill me, something worse happened. Ever heard the word, Horcrux?"

Snape nodded, understanding dawning on his face, "And you are..."

"Yes. Your turn." He chuckle grimly. "Quid Pro Quo, Agent Snape. Who is it that has realized they need me?"

While he was puzzled over the boy's words, he didn't let that tiny thing give him falter.

"Your father."

Confusion appeared on Harry's face, "But my father's..."

"Dead?" Severus finished Harry's sentence, "Looked at yourself in the mirror lately?" he said gesturing just behind Harry, "You'll see what I mean."

Harry did so, and after a few moments he saw what Severus had.

A fresh wave of sobbing overcame Harry and in that moment his resolve broke. Harry flung the goblet to one side where it shattered against the wall. Colourless potion ran down the stonework, pooling on the ground.

Harry dropped to his knees, crying harder then ever. The only difference was that this time a strong pair of hands wrapped around his shoulders, comforting him.

A voice was muttering softly in Harry's ear, seeking to calm him just as much as the arms were, "It'll all be fine. We'll get through this, together. There will be another way."

"Promise?" Harry asked in a trembling voice.

"Promise," Severus replied. Then he held Harry, his son, 'till the boys sobbing subsided.

Before Severus vanished the potion he inspected it, "This seems to have been rather well made, for once. I ought to congratulate you," he said, dryly.

Lupin made his way back to his office, hoping beyond hope that Severus had found whomever it was before it had been too late. What he didn't expect was to find a satisfied looking Severus, with a hand resting protectively on the shoulder of one Harry Potter waiting just outside his office door.

"Crises averted," the Potions Master said, tipping the werewolf a wink, "Now if you don't mind I think I'll be getting Harry of to bed."