This is my take on the end of book 6 from Severus Snape's POV...it was written as an entry for the Hideaway's Author of the Month contest. The challenge was to rewrite the end of book 6 starting from when Harry and Dumbledore return to Hogwarts during the attack using the POV of either Severus, Draco, or Albus and changing certain events as we chose. The minimum number of words is 2,500, I have over 2,700. Please review and let me know what you think. Many thanks to OSUSprinks for checking my work and giving some excellent advice for improving this oneshot.
Rated T for some rather mild language, violence/self-mutilation and character death.
Disclaimer: I don't own a thing.
Severus dashed up the stairs and emerged on the top of the Astronomy tower, his mind taking in the scene before him in a carefully detached manner. Greyback, Johnson and the two Carrows were already there. The four adults were standing between Severus and the other two people on the tower, Draco Malfoy and Albus Dumbledore.
Severus swore under his breath and dashed forward, shoving the feral werewolf out of his path. Draco was scared, Severus could tell. Albus looked up at him from where he was crouched against the stone wall of the tower. Severus glared down at the older man even as he pushed Draco aside.
Damn you, Dumbledore, he thought to himself. Damn you for putting me through this. You knew I would be the one he wanted to kill you. You couldn't possibly make my life a little easier, no, you had to make me go through with this…make me into someone the wizarding world will never forgive for killing their hero. Damn you.
Please what, Severus thought bitterly. Forgive you for making me do what I'm about to?
Two words and the old man was dead, knocked backwards off the tower. Severus wasted no time in grabbing Draco by the shoulder and dragging him away, down the stairs and through the castle. Those fighting to protect the castle were still engaged in battle; Severus wondered vaguely how long it would take them to discover that their beloved leader was dead.
The Apparition point was nearby, but they were being followed. It was Potter. Severus swore again and urged Draco to run faster.
Harry was yelling at him, shooting curses and screaming insults. He must have known about the Headmaster. Severus dodged the curses and reminded himself not to retaliate in earnest, Dumbledore had stressed again and again how important it was for Harry to survive. But then Severus heard the young man giving chase call him a coward.
"I am not a coward," Severus spun and screamed at the boy. How dare that pompous brat say that to him when Severus had just made what was quite possibly the biggest sacrifice of his life?
Severus sent a quick curse towards Harry, one the boy would have been able to dodge easily, and then hurried on with Draco until they reached the Apparition point and disappeared.
Back at Death Eater headquarters, everyone else was waiting eagerly to hear the outcome of the attack. Bella was there looking smug and suspicious as always, how Severus despised her. She seemed almost disappointed to see him; she must have expected the Unbreakable Vow to backfire.
"Draco!" Narcissa nearly fainted in relief as she saw her son, but managed to restrain herself from rushing forward to embrace him.
Draco glanced over at his mother as she called out to him, and the sight of her own frightened features seemed to wake him from his trance. Severus noticed how the young man pulled away and tried to harden his features, hiding his fear.
The other Death Eaters moved aside to let Severus and Draco pass. The Dark Lord was waiting and Severus prepared his mind as he always did, hiding any traces of emotion or treacherous thoughts that might arouse suspicion in his examiner.
Lord Voldemort was waiting for them; tall and hideous, he watched the two of them approach, his red eyes gleaming in anticipation.
"Is he dead?"
The question was asked before either of them could kneel down before him.
"He is my Lord," Severus told him, inclining his head as Draco did the same beside him.
"And who is responsible for that glorious triumph?" The Dark Lord's voice was a soft hiss now, the question should have been directed to Draco whose mission it was to kill Dumbledore, but Severus knew that the Dark Lord's eyes were fixed upon him.
"I am," Severus felt the guilt and anger and despair coiling into vicious snakes in his stomach, but long years of practice kept them from consuming him entirely.
"But that was young Mr. Malfoy's assignment, Severus," the Dark Lord hissed in mock surprise. "Why are you taking credit for what should have been his victory?"
Severus lifted his head to face the monster before him. He noted from the corner of his eye that Draco seemed tense and wary.
"Draco was unable to complete the task assigned to him, my Lord," Severus answered evenly, meeting the evil red eyes without flinching, "so I did it for him. Though I do believe that was your intention all along."
Voldemort gave a slight chuckle.
"Even the most loyal servant needs to be tested on occasion," he replied. Then his gaze flicked to Draco and his voice gained an edge. "Out of my sight you silly boy, I will deal with you later."
Draco glared up at the Dark Lord, pride flaring. But his fear seemed to win out and he rose from his kneeling position and left the room quickly. The other Death Eaters present watched him go before turning their attention back to the interaction between Severus and the Dark Lord.
"So you killed him?" Severus could practically feel the satisfaction rolling off the Dark Lord. "The great Albus Dumbledore, finally felled by the one he so trusted. Why you were almost like a son to him! I hope he lived long enough to feel the full blow of the betrayal."
"I'm certain he did, my Lord." Severus focused on the manic gleam in the Dark Lord's eyes to keep his anger at bay.
"You will be well rewarded, Severus," Voldemort told him. "Now that I have seen the ultimate proof of your loyalty."
"You may go."
Severus ignored the whispered comments of the other Death Eaters as he left the room and returned Bella's look of furious jealousy with one of scorn.
Narcissa was waiting in the hallway and she reached for him as he closed the door behind him, attempting to clutch at his robes and thank him for keeping his promises. Severus pushed her away and strode down the dark hall towards the lavatory.
Once inside the small room, Severus lit the cramped space with his wand and glared at his reflection in the grimy mirror.
Who was that angry man looking back between those strands of dark hair? Severus felt not as if he was looking into a mirror, but rather through a window at someone he did not know; he wasn't even sure what he himself looked like anymore or who he was.
Yesterday he had been a teacher, a semi-respected member of the wizarding community. Today he was a traitor in the eyes of everyone, including those who believed he was on their side. The people whose respect he had worked to attain now hated him. Filius Flitwick, Severus wondered if the little man was all right. When he woke would he remember all that had happened and recall with shame the times he and Severus had played chess or discussed dueling tactics? Minerva…Minerva McGonagall would never forgive Severus, that he knew. He had betrayed her trust and taken everything from her. She would never know the truth.
Severus clenched his jaw and dug his nails into his palms. No one would ever believe what had really happened, how it had been planned in advance between Dumbledore and himself. Even if he survived the war and the Dark Lord's fall there would be no place for him in the world. No one would trust or believe him and he would be a fugitive all his days.
Keeping Severus in the Dark Lord's trust was imperative in helping Harry; Dumbledore had believed that and had sacrificed his own life to make it happen. But now Severus was completely on his own with only his guilt and anger to keep him alive, to give him purpose.
Severus gave a low growl of fury and smashed his fist into the reflection before him. The mirror shattered, shards of glass falling at his feet and digging themselves into his hand. Blood dripped onto the sink below, curling around his wrist and sliding down his arm, Severus felt the thin ribbons of red as they spread themselves out across his skin, but he couldn't seem to feel the bite of the glass in his knuckles.
There were footsteps in the hallway outside and a knock on the door; Severus wondered in a swift rush of panic how many people had heard the breaking glass.
"What do you want?" he snapped, pulling a handkerchief from the pocket of his robes and attempting to wrap it around the bloody mess of his right hand.
"Oh sorry, I'll find another loo."
Severus relaxed as the footsteps beyond the door retreated and considered his current situation. With an awkward flick of his left hand, the shards of the mirror flew into their frame and repaired themselves. A few slivers were missing, Severus assumed they must have remained in his flesh. He didn't bother to try and heal his wounds just yet, instead he settled for a quick cleansing charm that removed most of the blood from his arm and his robes. He splashed some water on his face and dried it on a grubby towel hanging next to the sink. Checking the bandage on his right hand, Severus left the tiny room without another look in the mirror.
Severus was hoping to find an unused bedroom where he could sleep for a few hours, but before he could begin his search he heard the unpleasant and unmistakable voice of Bellatrix Lestrange coming from behind a door nearby.
"…weak and useless; you stupid boy! You could have won back your family's honor and received the Dark Lord's favor, but instead you failed! You just couldn't bring yourself to-"
"Bella, shut up."
Bellatrix whirled around in mid sentence to glare at Severus standing in the doorway behind her.
"Ah the favored one," she sneered, her dark, hooded eyes glinting furiously.
"You really are pathetic, Bella," Severus told her. "Why don't you go kiss up to the Dark Lord and share your opinions with him, he might give a damn. I certainly do not and I believe Draco would agree with me."
Bella opened her mouth again to retort, but reconsidered and curled her lips in a sneer before sweeping out of the room, brushing past Severus as she did so. Draco and Severus were alone for the first time since the attack began. Draco appeared paler than usual and furious, though at himself or someone else, Severus could not guess.
"He wanted me to do it, Draco," Severus told him. "If you had succeeded it would not have interested him greatly, he might even have been angry. The Dark Lord has always had some slight doubts about me and this was his way of testing my true loyalties."
Draco looked away and said nothing.
"You did everything else," Severus continued. "You got everyone into the castle, you-"
"But I couldn't do it!" Draco hissed, facing Severus and glaring at the older man. "I could have done it minutes before you arrived, but I couldn't and that's the worst failure of all."
Is it a failure to still be human, Severus wanted to ask him. To still retain your soul despite that brand on your arm?
"There will be more opportunities to prove that you can kill," Severus told him with a dismissive jerk of his bandaged hand. "Just remember that this was not your test, it was mine."
"What happened to your hand?" Draco asked suddenly. "It wasn't like that when we arrived."
"I had an altercation with a piece of glass," Severus told him coldly. "Not that I consider it to be any of your concern."
"So what happens now?" he asked Severus. "Do I get called back to the Dark Lord and receive a little Crucio treatment for my so-called failure?"
"And then what?"
"A new assignment perhaps," Severus told him. "He may pair you with an older Death Eater for awhile, I really have no idea."
Draco nodded and seemed to relax.
"It's only a bit of pain," Draco whispered to himself, "it won't last forever."
From another room of the house came series of loud screams. It was a woman's voice. Severus and Draco both froze and then their eyes met as they had the same thought. There were no other female Death Eaters present other than Bellatrix as Alecto Carrow had already left. Bella never screamed in pain so the only other woman who could be screaming was…
"Mother," Draco breathed and stared at Severus in horror. "He's hurting her instead."
Severus lunged for Draco, but the young man dodged his grasp and sped from the room and down the hall until he reached the room where Voldemort was holding court. Severus followed at a run, not wanting Draco to incur the Dark Lord's wrath any further.
Narcissa Malfoy lay hunched up on the floor in front of Lord Voldemort, her silvery blonde hair hiding her face. Her slim body was shaking and Severus could hear the soft whimpering that she was trying to control with little success. Draco ran to her side and pulled her to her feet as he glared at the Dark Lord.
"Take your anger out on me," Draco snarled. "Punish me, she did nothing."
"Draco, stop please…"
Narcissa's quiet voice faded away as Voldemort spoke in a teasing hiss, his red eyes fixed upon Draco.
"Ah, but she was the one who asked to take your punishment upon herself, dear Draco," the Dark Lord told the young man. "And so she did, amazing what a mother's love will drive her to do, is it not? But since you seem so keen to receive a little pain of your own…crucio!"
Severus managed to catch Narcissa as Draco fell forward and gritted his teeth against the pain, only out letting out a slight moan. Narcissa cried out, but Severus held her tightly and prevented her from rushing to her son. She sobbed into the front of his robes as Voldemort considered the young man at his feet and after several minutes, removed the curse.
"Get up," he snapped. "I'll send for you when I have an assignment for you, perhaps you'll follow through next time."
Draco struggled to his feet and stumbled from the room. Severus followed at a slower pace, as he was half carrying Narcissa. When the three of them were alone in the hallway, Draco took his mother's hand in one of his own and pushed a bit of hair behind her ear.
"I'm sorry, mother," he told her. "I'm sorry I failed and that you were hurt, I promise that will never happen again."
"Draco, I wish you had never become one of them," she whispered.
"It's too late," Draco replied. Then he turned his eyes to look at the man supporting his mother and Severus suddenly wondered how much the younger man suspected about his former Professor's true loyalties. "I have to see this through to the end, regardless of the outcome."
After finding a small couch for Narcissa to rest upon in one of the unused rooms of the Dark Lord's current headquarters, Severus unwound the makeshift bandage on his hand and did his best to remove the tiny slivers of glass embedded in his knuckles. The sun was just beginning to show itself above the trees when Severus finished performing the best healing spell that he knew.
As he flexed his sore fingers, Severus looked out on the sunrise from the dirty second story window. Yesterday Albus Dumbledore had probably watched the sunrise from the window in his office, did he know that sunrise would be his last?
Severus laid his forehead against the glass of the window and wondered if he would recognize his last sunrise, and if he did, would he fight against it, or would he welcome it with open arms?
It was one of the other Death Eaters, a new recruit.
"The Dark Lord wishes to speak with you."
"Yes, I'm coming," Severus looked out the window a final time, gazing out at the sunrise before turning and following the young Death Eater from the room.
By the time he stood before Voldemort, Severus had prepared his mind and erased all traces of guilt, loneliness and regret, though only moments before he had wiped away the first tear to touch his cheek in almost twenty years.