Title: Knight of Pentacles, Queen of Wands

Summary: Severus Snape discovers that there's more to his pointless death than his miserable life counted on.

Warnings: Rated M for non-graphic language, violence, and character deaths


Chapter 1: The Fool's Journey

Silvery threads, blood, and a great deal of pain were all that he remembered. He had given his memories to someone for something. His last conscious thought was of lovely green eyes and that was it for him. For a man who had often contemplated death, it was rather ironic that as he was experiencing the act itself, he was not thinking, savoring, or analyzing the experience. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered. Not anymore.

Severus Snape would hardly have been himself, even in death, if something completely unforeseen, unwanted, and unsavory didn't happen. He figured he had bad karma, which was something he didn't even believe in. His life was a series of bad things or worse things and having to deal with all of it the best he could, because someone with sense had to, and Severus prided himself on not being a dunderhead. It was disappointing, but nonetheless in keeping with his life that his death should turn out much the same.

He had no expectations other than a vague hope of peaceful oblivion, nothingness, or annihilation when it came to the prospect of an afterlife. To be confronted with King's Cross Station and Albus Dumbledore was certainly not his idea of eternal rest. In fact, he figured that hell must indeed be real and he was merely reaping what he had sown in his miserable life.

"You're not meant to be here," he stated sourly.

Albus chuckled merrily and motioned Severus to an uncomfortable bench. "Well, neither are you, my boy. You do recall how I went on about death being the next great adventure, do you not?"

Half moon spectacles dipped slightly down a crooked nose as curious blue eyes glanced at him from over the frames.

"You indeed spoke of your impending demise much more frequently than I would have liked, especially as I was the instrument of said demise," Severus responded.

A gnarled hand waved away the cynical tone carelessly. "All in the past my boy, don't beat yourself up over it. I'm quite content."

As if to prove the statement Dumbledore gave a beaming smile and his lurid purple paisley robes began to rotate the paisley pattern in a hypnotic swirl.

Severus felt that his growl of frustration was quite warranted. It was his death, damn it! He should be left to it; preferably alone.

"No use in beating dead hippogriffs with you, eh Severus? Well, on to the matter at hand then. Most deaths are fairly straightforward. However, sometimes a few encounter a cross roads of a sort; a few such as young Harry and you, for example. Mr. Potter had a destiny to complete, but your destiny, and I daresay this is rather exciting, is a bit unusual."

Dumbledore stopped speaking abruptly and conjured a tea set. To the Albus Dumbledore of the carefully cultivated doddery old wizard persona (which was to be kept quite separate from his other numerous personas), tea and sherbet lemons solved a world, or afterlife of problems. To Severus Snape, of whom there was only the one persona, it only served to make life and the afterlife more annoying. Severus took a cup just so it wouldn't keep hitting him in the head.

"Sometimes, it is determined that a soul was given a particularly bad life and that they should have the opportunity to pick it up from a point where it could potentially have turned out for the better. An alternate universe, if you will."

"No. I'd rather not."

"It would be as if your old life had never happened."

"No."

Dumbledore looked to Severus pityingly. "Ah, well, I'm afraid you aren't being given much of a choice."

"What you really mean is no choice."

"Semantics, Severus."

"I suppose you have a way of justifying this manipulation of even my death as being For the Greater Good?" Severus asked nastily.

A younger red-haired man with the same blue eyes smirked back to him. Haughty, arrogant, genuinely amused, and still very much Albus Dumbledore.

"Always, Severus."

"How dare you use my own words against me," Severus hissed angrily.

"Still as melodramatic as ever, I see. We all have a destiny. Multiple time-lines exist. It is the way of magic. Dealing with time is a messy thing. That's why it is so restricted. Not because it isn't possible, or is difficult to achieve, but because one could accidentally erase one's own existence if it is done under the wrong conditions by going to a time-line that isn't part of their universe, but an alternate one. Time travel in the real sense is only granted to a few individuals who have completed their own time-line in one world so they can merge with their alternate persona in another world. When you meet yourself you will merge. I confess Severus, that I'm rather jealous that you've been chosen," the young Dumbledore lectured.

"I confess myself surprised that you weren't chosen either, but it hardly surprises me that I would be chosen to complete a task for which I have no inclination," Severus answered smoothly.

"Which is likely the reason you were chosen over me. I would want something like this too badly. I have power and control issues," the red-headed man laughed self-deprecatingly.

"Why?"

A simple question that really couldn't be adequately answered, Severus knew. Albus Dumbledore certainly wouldn't know and he knew a lot of things.

"I'm simply the messenger, Severus. I have no idea why and for what purpose you've been chosen. We all have a destiny. Yours simply hasn't been completed as of yet. Your death was for a cause, but ultimately pointless and unjust."

"Which describes the lives and deaths of countless millions, so why am I an exception?"

"My advice is to simply accept it. It is pointless to question such things as fate."

"I never knew you to be so fatalistic in life, Albus," Severus responded dryly.

"There's a lot you didn't know about me, but I digress. It is time. Your train is departing any moment and we won't be expecting your return for quite a while."

In response to Albus' words, a train did indeed appear. It was an older train, very antique looking and produced a massive amount of smoke. Severus found himself ushered aboard, and with one last glance back at Albus Dumbledore, he knew no more.