Title: Second Circle of Hell
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and all the fictional characters belong to Teh Jo Rowling. All creds go to her.
Warnings: This story will contain SLASH! In other words a male/male pairing. I'm stressing this now, so that you won't be disappointed later into the story.
Notes: This story began before DH, and as such is now AU, but I will try to keep as much to canon (not that this is the least bit canon, but y'know) as I can, so I can't promise no spoilers from here on and out.
Summary: The war is over, and consequences have to be paid. Snape apparently chose the wrong side at the end, and as punishment he is given over to none other than Harry Potter as his personal slave
Green light flashed through the sky. There hadn't even been the words "avada kedavra" to warn him ahead. As he saw his Lord crumble to the ground, Severus Snape knew that this time, he would have no guardian to save him.
It had taken him four years to locate and destroy all the horcoruxes, but he had done it. Harry Potter was now twenty years old, and stood tall and shivering in front of the most feared figure of the entire Wizarding World. The Dark Lord was breathing deeply, probably from exhaustion. Which didn't surprise Harry who was about to fall to the ground himself, but not yet, not until that monster was dead and gone from the world. Rising his wand, Harry could feel the overwhelming hatred, the power of destruction. But no, he would not kill in the name of hatred; he would not turn into another version of what stood before him. Calling forth images of his parents, his loved ones. Every good memory of moments filled with warmth and contentment, everyone and everything he was protecting. What had made him go through years of struggles and uncertainty. He had done it for them to be safe. He would destroy what caused them uneasy sleep and bloodshot eyes. No more. Green light seemed to shoot out from not his wand, but straight from his very soul, his heart. It was so bright it lit up the entire sky. Temporarily blinded, he could only hear the cries of the people on the battlefield. Had he done it? Was it over?
But he got no answer to his questions, as the ground came rushing up to meet him.
The world he woke up to was quiet and dark, illuminated only by a few candles. It smelled of antiseptic, pine needles, bleach and honey. Harry knew those scents better than any other, he was in the hospital wing. Warm and familiar, Harry stretched carefully, making sure everything in his body worked as it should. Finding that it did, and his previous exhaustion completely gone, he sat up in his bed and looked around himself. Every bed was filled with people hurt in different degrees. Some had visitors quietly talking to them or holding their hands with looks of sorrow on their faces. Nurses checked up on the quietly sleeping, to see if their pulse and breathing were still stable, everything lead by a now aging Madame Pomfrey.
But Harry still didn't know, he still didn't know whether he had been able to do the deed he had been destined to do since Voldemort had tried to kill him all those years ago. He had hoped the state of the people around him would have given him an idea, but the sorrow that dominated in the hospital only gave him a feeling of dread. Tossing the blankets aside and placing his bare feet on the cold floor, Harry made his way to Madame Pomfrey who stood talking quietly to one of the nurse maids. The nurse wore a phoenix pin, which meant she worked there out of free will and received no money for it. Harry smiled politely at her and waited until they finished their business before turning to Madame Pomfrey.
'So Harry, you are awake,' she smiled kindly to him, 'it's good to see you on your feet, now that you have saved the world the second time in your short lifetime.'
It took a few seconds before the words sank into him, but when the realization struck, Harry's face lit up in a huge grin.
'It's over?' He asked in relief, it felt as if the greatest burden had been lifted from his shoulders. As it had.
Madame Pomfrey nodded severely, 'but many Death Eaters escaped,' she continued now smiling bitterly, 'they're still killing, now without a second thought seeing as they have nothing more to lose. Their names are known and they don't have a leader to organize them, it's impossible to judge their next attacks. They murder and wound only to bring us down with them. As you see, we didn't win without a cost.' Looking around himself again, Harry could feel some of the exhaustion return to him, and with heavy heart he realized the war was not over just because the source was gone.
'But we are on our way,' Madame Pomfrey reassured, 'having killed Voldemort means there will be no victory for them.'
'You are right,' Harry conceded, 'but could you possibly tell me...' Harry hesitated for a few seconds before plunging into it again, 'could you tell me who made it through the battle, ... And who didn't?' He hadn't wanted to ask this question, the only thing he had wanted was to awaken to find all his friends and loved ones safe with their families. But that was not the reality, and it would probably never be.
'I don't know who was brought to St. Mungos,' Madame Pomfrey said, 'but a bit further down the hall lies Remus Lupin and Neville Longbottom, they will certainly make it. Tonks, Finnigan and Zabini is a bit more critical, we can't say for certain but they are stable at the moment. The Patil girls, Mundugus and many more didn't survive the battlefield at all. I am terribly sorry Harry.' She patted him comfortingly on the arm before hurrying off to one of the beds, leaving Harry alone to think. He was certain she would have mentioned one of the Weasleys or Hermione if she had known anything. So they were either all safe or at St. Mungos. But first of all he would check on Lupin and Neville. Having heard that two of his good friends were both safe had made it just a bit easier for him to breathe.
On a second thought, Harry didn't know how long he had been unconscious, and there were no signs of any of his friends having visited him. With heavy heart and cold feet, Harry made his way down the hospital wing, looking at each side for either Lupin or Neville. He found the werewolf first, and it looked like he slept contently. His hair was completely silver now, and his face more lined, but he was still a beautiful man Harry mused.
After Dumbledore had been killed by Snape in his sixth year, Harry had been the one they had looked up to, the one they had followed. It had been a heavy burden, and at the time he hadn't know whether he could bear it or not. But he had managed it, and now four years after, he stood tall, having vanquished his greatest enemy.
Just the thought of the traitorous Snape made Harry's jaw clench. He wondered if the Slytherin had survived the last battle at all. A corner of his mind gleefully hoped so, just so that Harry could end his life himself.
Bending over Lupin, Harry rested a comforting hand on his brow and smiled. He still had some of his friends, they were still here. It didn't matter what happened to Snape now, it was all over and they had won.
Dumbledore's death had marked a drastic turning point in Harry's life, and everything was divided into before and after that terrible night. Before, Harry had hated his dour and strict potions master. After, he had wanted nothing more than to see the traitor beg for death. It had worn off however, the burning rage and anger at the injustice, as Harry realized there were more important things to do. And what had surprised him more was the clues that had timely showed up every time he had been lost on his road. First he had been quite suspicious of them, but Hermione and Ron had helped him researching, and found them correct every time. Sometimes the clues had to be decoded, as it seemed the person sending them had to be very secretive. Harry had known all the time who the culprit was. What mystified him however was why Snape was helping them after he had killed one of the star players on their team. Once, Harry had gotten the courage to send the man a letter, asking this question and many more. He had never gotten an answer. Harry didn't even know if the man had gotten the letter.
Even though Snape had continued to help them in his way, he never made an appearance again, not until the final battle. He knew better of course, they would have killed him on sight. The letters might have indicated that Snape did indeed work for their side, and Harry had come to grudgingly believe this, no matter how much it wounded his pride. But then, on the battlefield, when Snape pointed his wand, it had not been at Death Eaters. He had fought like one of Voldemort's minions, and Harry's small hopes had been crushed.
Why? This question was churning around and around in his mind as he stared down at his old friend. Snape was going to stay an enigma until the end he decided.
Petting Lupin carefully on the cheek he once again trailed down the ail looking for Neville.
Harry found his old friend sitting up in his bed reading in an old edition of Witch Weekly. Neville looked startled up as Harry cleared his throat and grinned broadly.
'Harry!' he exclaimed in a hoarse voice, 'you're awake finally; I've been so alone over here.' Harry smiled himself and sat down in the chair next to the bed,
'you've been awake long then?' he asked, wondering just how many hours, or maybe days had passed since Voldemort had died.
'Yes well, only a day,' Neville answered, letting the magazine fall to the floor in lack of any tables. He had sensed the unasked question and continued, 'the battle was held yesterday, you haven't been out long.' Letting out a breath of relief, Harry felt himself smile properly for the first time in a long while.
'Do you know anything of Hermione or Ron?' Harry asked, 'or any of the others for that matter?'
'Oh, they are quite all right,' Neville reassured, 'they were here not so many hours ago, checking up on you. But they had to go, everyone healthy has to give a helping hand. The Weasley family is quite in an uproar I've heard.'
'Why?' Harry asked fearfully, expecting the worst. He didn't know how to handle it if anymore of the Weasley family had gotten wounded or died. First it had been Bill who had been attacked by Greyback, then Percy had been found tortured and dumped outside a wizarding village, his memory erased. He had no recollection of what had happened, neither of what information he had given away, something which had broken the otherwise so controlled wizard completely. He had been reunited with his family, but in such a way as no one deserved.
After that, the Weasleys had gotten quite the scare when the twins had returned to their store and found it completely turned upside down, crude bashings of muggleborns graffitied on the walls. It had been a good thing that Fred and George had been away on an Order meeting at the time. Of course, the last and most fatal incident had been prevented by a well timed note. The Death Eaters had found a way around the wards protecting the very core of the Weasleys, namely the Burrow. Harry had gotten the warning just in time to get the family flooed back to their new Order meeting place which was an old, run down muggle factory.
Luckily, no one had gotten killed, but Harry wasn't so sure that luck had held through the final confrontation.
'They have opened their homes to the people who needs comfort after having lost loved ones,' said Neville after a little while, startling Harry out of his reverie. Again he let out a deep shaking breath, so far the news given to him had not been as catastrophic as he had expected. Harry was still awaiting the final blow.
'When are you let out of here?' Harry ask to continue the conversation. Neville shrugged and twiddled his thumbs.
'I don't know, soon I think, they need the beds for people worse wounded than me,' he coughed a bit uncomfortably. 'Er... I've got these seizures you see, and Madame Pomfrey won't let me go until they become less frequent.'
'Seizures?' Harry's eyes grew big, whatever had happened out there on the field while he was occupied with other things? Neville looked reluctant to go on, but the worried look Harry was giving him made him shrug in pretended nonchalance.
'I met, you know, her out there,' he muttered, 'she said she wanted to finish what she had started. So she cast a long series of Criciatus on me. Apparently enough to somehow damage my nerve system for some time.'
'She did what?' Harry hissed in outrage, knowing very well who Neville was referring to, the bitch Bellatrix Lestrange, 'where is she now? I'll kill her!'
'No need,' Neville said, his eyes as calm and cold as Harry had ever seen them, 'I have already taken care of that.'
Harry sat back in his seat, mouth half open and staring at the friend he thought he knew. Apparently, he had underestimated Neville, and this was not the first time.
'Good for you mate,' Harry finally managed to say and nodded, 'if anyone deserved the last say, it was you.' Neville smiled bitterly and looked down at his hands, sighing heavily. Now that Harry looked closer, he could see how his hands were shaking. Clenching his teeth in anger he stood, bending over to give Neville a hug.
'I'll just be asking Madame Pomfrey when she intends to let me out,' he said, 'I'll let you sleep now.'
The next day Harry had returned safe and sound back at the Burrow where he was met with many cheers, hugs and kisses on the cheek. It was like heaven being back in his friend's arms, and he explained eagerly many a detail as they asked for them.
But though things where definitely going their way, the war as Madame Pomfrey had stated, was not over. Something which became quite evident as he gazed at all the people in the room. Though they bravely smiled at him while they shook his hand and gave their thanks, he could see the depths of their sorrow in their eyes. These were people who had lost everything in the war.
Harry tried to comfort himself with the fact that they now would have a time ahead were they could rebuild at least parts of their lives again. He was looking forward to a few quiet years himself, after everything was said and done.