It's My Will

The castle grounds were alight that night. The war of the century was taking place on its green mantle. The forces of the Dark had finally come out to face those of the Light in an epic war between good and evil. Flashes of green, blue, red and white lit the place like a thunderstorm. Lord Voldemort had launched his final attack against Hogwarts, the stronghold of magical learning he's been craving for so long. With Dumbledore gone, he had thought nobody could stand in his way and stop his rise to power. But the Dark Lord had made a great mistake in his calculations. His army was not ready to face the brave resistance of an incredibly large part of the wizarding world. Too many people still had vivid memories of Voldemort's reign of terror. There were too many scars, too many broken families.

The front of the Dark was gravely outnumbered by the army of the Light. Many Death Eaters were captured, some died and others tried to flee. In the uproar of the battle Harry Potter was tirelessly advancing towards his archenemy for the final fight. A dying Bellatrix Lestrange raised her wand in a last desperate attempt to protect her master. She cast the Killing Curse towards an unaware Harry.

"Watch out, Potter!" a male voice screamed suddenly, before a curse was thrown at Bellatrix.

Harry instinctively threw himself flat on the ground, obeying a somewhat familiar voice he had neither the time nor the patience to try and identify. Then he stood up and marched on towards his target. A short distance away from Harry, two masked and hooded men huddled together

"I knew it. You're just a fucking traitor!" Lucius Malfoy hissed to the other man.

"Lucius, let me explain," Severus Snape whispered, trying to justify himself.

Before he even had time to add a single word, Lucius stuck a knife straight into Severus's abdomen and rushed away. His son's lucky mission of the previous year had brought him back into his master's good graces and he really did not want to be imprisoned again. Lucius Malfoy was smart enough to realise the inexorably imminent defeat of the Dark Lord. Nobody would have come in his rescue this time, so it was better to flee and leave the others to their destiny.

A burning pain took over Severus's body, and he nearly lost his balance. As soon as he recognised Lucius' serpent-shaped knife, he knew his end was close. The blond man had a habit of keeping his knife always with him, a sharp, infallible, poisoned blade. Severus saw a tree standing not very far from him. He gathered his failing strengths, pressed a hand to his bleeding wound and stumbled towards it. He rested his other hand on the tree trunk and carefully lowered himself to sit among its roots, stretching his legs before him.

"What irony..." he thought, smirking at the handle sticking out of his belly.

He still remembered the day when Lucius had commissioned him to brew a special poison. Back then, he would have hardly believed he was going to fall victim to his own skills one day. He knew he had a long, agonising death before him. He was not upset with his murderer. He had always known Lucius was no true friend. He was just living up to Severus's expectations. He was not even scared of death. He had always suspected that he was going to die young, that it was just a matter of time. Anyway, if Dumbledore's secret plan had worked, Harry Potter was surely going to kill the Dark Lord for once and for all. Life really did not have much in store for Severus, even if he was to survive.

Without the protection of the Horcruxes, Voldemort was no longer invincible. Harry Potter gave a demonstration of his bravery and improved magical skills by finally killing his nemesis. The castle grounds were covered with the bodies of the dead and the wounded fighters. Hermione and Ron, fortunately unscathed, hurried across the field to check on their friend.

"Hey, Harry!" Ron shouted, smiling broadly to see his best friend still alive.

"Oh, Harry. You're safe, thank goodness!" Hermione sighed in relief.

"Where is Snape? Where's...that murderer? Don't tell me...he fled again!" he quickly hissed between pants.

"Harry! Are you all right?" Lupin shouted, approaching the trio.

"Yes, yes," said Harry impatiently. "I need to find Snape!" he repeated, his eyes glittering with the fire of revenge.

"Then follow me. But don't worry, he's going nowhere," Lupin answered with a strange sadness shadowing his voice.

The four Order of the Phoenix members silently walked across the hushed battlefield to the side of the lake. Right there at the feet of the tree, the one Harry and his friends used to rest beneath on sunny days, sat Snape. His face was paler than ever and his head was tilted to the side. His usually attentive eyes were staring blindly at the still surface of the lake. One hand lay loosely at his side while the other rested on his blood drenched lap. The trio was shocked by the unexpected sight and froze on the spot. Severus was called out of oblivion by the sound of approaching feet. He slowly raised his head towards the intruders.

"Hello, Potter," he whispered weakly, as a half-smirk curled one side of his mouth.

"What happened?" Harry asked tersely, annoyed by his former teacher's calm.

"Well, people say friends stab you in the back. Mine just preferred another target," he softly whispered in his trademark sarcasm.

"Let me heal it!" Hermione said and quickly knelt down, pointing the tip of her wand at the wound.

"Don't!" Severus said, lowering her wand with a dumb, bloody hand. "It's too late, anyways."

"But you'll die!" Hermione murmured, thunderstruck by his refusal.

"I know," he simply whispered.

"No way! You still have to pay for everything you've done. You must live!" Harry protested, his head boiling for his thirst of justice.

"Do you really hate me that much?" Severus suddenly asked in a hurt voice, which left Harry speechless.

"We can't just let you... It's not ... fair," Hermione managed to say in a strangled voice.

"It's my will," Severus softly whispered, causing the girl to burst to tears.

Don't shed a tear for me

I stand alone

This path of destiny

Is all my own

Once in the hands of fate

There is no choice...

"If that's what you want, we'll respect it. But I believe you owe us an explanation," Lupin said kindly. "Why did you kill Albus Dumbledore?"

"Because he ordered me to do it. He knew about Draco Malfoy's mission and the Unbreakable Vow I gave to his mother. He decided that by dying he would save more lives," Severus slowly explained, each sentence requiring an immense effort.

"How could you accept it, after all the times he saved your ass?" Ron suddenly burst out in protest, giving Snape a disgusted look.

"Don't think I didn't try to dissuade him. We had a terrible row the night we discussed it in the forest. But Albus wasn't one to easily give up," Severus angrily protested.

A fresh burst of pain forced him to calm down. Drops of cold sweat started forming pearls on his forehead. He gasped and panted for air, as the final phase of his agony began. He closed his eyes and tried to take some deep breaths, while the four Gryffindors stared at him in silence. He let his mind wander back to the memory of the last discussion he had had with Dumbledore, and the old man's words echoed in his ears.

Some choose to fall behind

Some choose to lead

Some choose a golden path

Laden with greed

But it's the noble heart

That makes you strong

And in that heart I'm with you all along...

Severus knew his end was close, but he still had a few things left to say to those people who had, somehow, come to assist him in his last drops of life. He gathered all the strength he had left, opened his eyes, and finally spoke again.

"I don't have much time left, so please don't interrupt me," Severus said before going on. "Harry, I've always known you were going to defeat him. You've done well," he said to the saviour of the wizarding world.

"Thank you, sir," Harry almost automatically said, as his mind still registered the shock of being praised by the last person he ever expected to hear a kind word from.

"Hermione, you're a talented witch. Don't let any man chain you to a life of cooking and childbearing," he said to his best student.

"Ron, even the walls know that you love her. Don't be as stupid as I was, don't condemn yourself to a life without love," he said to the redhead with a weak smile, causing the boy to blush furiously.

"Remus, I think that – if things had been different between us – we could have been good friends," he said to his old classmate.

"Maybe in our next life, Severus," Lupin softly whispered in a slightly quivering voice, touched by the declaration of peace.

"That would be ... nice," Severus softly said, before life left him with his last word.

His eyes closed and his head fell softly to one side, while a small smile graced his lips. Harry and his friends were deeply touched by that sad event of life they had just witnessed. Hermione burst into tears again and Ron promptly hugged her. Harry felt a strange sensation in his stomach. All the hatred he had felt for the Potions master had suddenly left him. Deep inside he knew his heart had forgiven the man for all the times he had treated him badly. Lupin knelt down beside Snape's body and carefully extracted the poisoned knife. Then he took Snape's other hand and laid it next to the one resting on the dead man's lap.

"There's nothing more to do here. Let's go," he said, steering the trio back towards the castle.

"It's over, isn't it?" Harry asked Lupin.

"On the contrary, my dear Harry. It's just begun," the man said, encircling the boy's shoulders with his arm.

Now at the journey's end

We've traveled far

And all we have to show

Are battle scars

But in the love we shared

We will transcend

And in that love our journey never ends...

The End