A/N: Once again, Spoilers for Deathly Hallows below. Just so you know
He had imagined his death several times over the years. Dozens of times, probably hundreds; each more twisted and strange than the last. He imagined himself slowly going insane in Azkaban, finally buried in its Potter's Field. Being left to rot and eaten by animals in some unnamed forest. Going out in a blaze of green light as a warning to other wizards, perhaps poisoned by some Zonko's (and later, Weasley) product. Discovered, betrayed, tricked and trapped into his own demise. Sometimes, when he was feeling extraordinarily masochistic, he wondered what it would be like dying peacefully in a comfortable bed in a warm house, white haired and happy.
But never had he imagined this.
There was a moment, crystal clear and knife sharp, when he'd believed it was a particularly sick and twisted joke. Merlin knew he'd been around the Dark Lord enough in the past year to warrant one of his sadistic (and seldom deadly) pranks. The man hated waste, was fastidious about only killing those of pure blood he felt needed to be killed, and Severus Snape was an asset that he could not possibly do without. At least, not until there was something he wanted more.
Severus had known what the Dark Lord was capable of, knew his penchant for letting his pet do his dirty work, but he had always seen it as too undignified a way to die. The Dark Lord, Voldemort, seeing you as so beneath his notice that he didn't even bother to deal with you himself. When the fangs pierced his neck Snape would have laughed, if he could have pulled in air. Being killed by a dumb animal, the symbol of his House, was strangely anti-climatic after the life he'd lead, almost comical. If anything, it was ironic.
He'd wished for death more times than he liked to remember; hoped, prayed, and even begged for it when he thought his purpose was served. A few times, in the dead of night when he remembered red hair and emerald eyes, he had considered doing the task himself, but he couldn't die here, not now.
The boy was still alive.
Lily's boy, with her eyes and Potter's face. The one he was supposed to keep safe, protect. The one he was supposed to lead to his death like a sacrificial lamb. Harry Potter, the Chosen One, Gryffindor Seeker, Golden Boy. Albus's secret weapon and their only hope. He still had to tell the boy, deliver Albus's message and hope Potter chose the better path, but that wouldn't happen now. He was going to die here, forgotten in the Shrieking Shack; mice nibbling away at his corpse until all that was left were a few scattered bones and nests made of his clothes. He doubted anyone would come looking of him, no matter which side won. No one cared about Severus Snape, Hogwart's Headmaster, traitor to Voldemort and killer of Albus Dumbledore.
He was going to die before he could carry out his last mission.
When Voldemort moved the cage away Severus didn't have enough blood to keep standing. He was aware of the floor rumbling up to meet his back, aware of Voldemort leaving him to his fate. Feebly, one hand went to his neck, but the wounds were too numerous, too deep. A thousand different spells went through his mind, hundreds of potions, but he didn't have his wand and his stores were miles away, safe at Hogwarts. He was cold, warmth gushing out of him with his life's blood. His life had been hard, marked with triumphs and failures, love and loss and bitter disappointments. He'd fought for every inch he'd gained and lost over forty some-odd years, but this was different.
Dying, it seemed, was incredibly easy.
Something moved in the room, a face swam into the blur of his vision. Emerald eyes stared at him with a mixture of sadness and revulsion. For a moment, he was fifteen again, upside down and staring after Lily as she walked away from him. Then the hair darkened, the features sharpened…
Strength was something Severus had always had in abundance, and he used the last of it now, grabbed the boy so he couldn't escape. Summoned what he knew would be his last bit of magic in this life and solidified his memories into vapor, forced them out, towards Potter, towards their savior.
Perhaps he wouldn't fail, after all.
"Take… it…" He could feel the words frothing in his throat, stifled by blood and phlegm, but he knew Potter understood. "Take… it…"
There was the distant sound of rustling, so dull to his ears, as the boy moved. A few moments later those eyes swung back to his, and Severus almost smiled. The revulsion was gone, along with pity. They were clear, emerald green, the eyes he remembered from his youth. The eyes that haunted him his entire life. The eyes he loved.
Severus Snape was a complicated man. A man of many titles, and few illusions. But for the first time, he wanted someone to see him, Severus Snape, flawed man, traitor and spy, soldier and teacher. It was too late to ask for forgiveness from Albus, or Lily, or the nameless masses of his victims. He could not ask Harry for his forgiveness, not after all he had done, but perhaps, in his final act, he could get his understanding.
Lily's eyes followed him into the darkness.
Thank you for reading! Please leave a review. It makes me squirm with unholy joy to know what people think of my brain oozings. J