Two and a half years.
That's how long Harry Potter had been missing, presumed dead. It was only after the Dark Lord was defeated, that Severus Snape discovered the Boy-Who-Lived trapped within one of the lowest, darkest cells in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor.
Severus Snape landed outside Malfoy Manor shortly after feeling a burn in his left arm. He knew he needed to hurry, or Lord Voldemort would punish him for being late, and after the trying day of teaching he had, had, he was in no mood for the cruciatus curse or whatever else the Dark Lord felt like throwing at him. He walked quickly, yet gracefully down the many passageways that made up the century-old manor before finally reaching the ball room, where he knew his "master" was waiting for him.
Before opening the door, he checked to make sure his occlumency shields were up to full strength. After Potter had disappeared nearly two and a half years ago, he had to be extra careful when in the presence of one of the greatest wizards of the age.
After making sure there was no way the monster could "read his mind" as Potter had so eloquently put it, all those years ago, he pushed open the door, taking in just how many Death Eaters there were at the gathering. Snape instantly became anxious. The Dark Lord only ever called this many followers when he was planning something big, and by the looks of how many black-cloaked people were gathered, he was either attacking Diagon Alley or Hogwarts.
Snape knew he would have no chance of contacting Dumbledore before the attack began. He could only hope that whatever was being attacked was well protected, and please Merlin, if it was Hogwarts, let the students be safe.
The battle was not going well. Much to Severus' dismay, Voldemort had chosen to attack Hogwarts. Thankfully by the time the Dark Lord had taken down the protective wards, all the students from first to fourth year had been evacuated, and most of the fifth years were safe as well.
The battle had been going on for nearly three hours, and Severus knew the Light side could not fight for much longer. Severus could see Dumbledore furiously battling Voldemort, but he could tell Voldemort was only playing with Dumbledore, and it was now only a matter of time before the old wizard fell. Severus tried to get to his mentor, but as he ran, he could only watch as Voldemort cast curse, after painful curse on the older wizard, forcing the man onto his knees.
Just as Voldemort was about to cast the fatal green curse, a person ran in front of the fallen headmaster.
'Get out of the way!' shouted Voldemort, but the person refused to. Instead they lowered their hood and many on the grounds gasped. Ginny Weasley had not been seen for nearly as long as Potter. She ran away from the Wizarding world only months after Potter's disappearance. She had left a note, saying that she couldn't live in a pace that has so many memories of "her wonderful Harry". The only reason her family knew she was alive was because of the family clock that Molly owned.
Ginny Weasley only smiled at Voldemort as she pulled out of her cloak a muggle pistol. Voldemort just laughed at her. 'Do you really think a muggle weapon will be able to kill me?' The contempt he felt at just being the same proximity as such a thing was clear in his voice. 'Do you honestly believe that I, Lord Voldemort, would not have taken precautions against such things?'
'And do you honestly believe, Tom, that I would return to the magical world after two and a half years, just to try and kill you? Clearly you haven't been back to the muggle world for a very long time, because even the most clueless pure-blood knows that being shot in the head at such close range will kill you.' And with that, Ginny Weasley pulled the trigger, while standing no more than two metres from Lord Voldemort. The blast that was heard from the shot made many jump. Most not realising that a gun made such a loud noise. The blast from the gun muffled the sound of the body hitting the ground, but once everyone got over their shock at the thought of a magical person using a muggle gun, they noticed that Lord Voldemort had not gotten up from the ground. Many of the Death Eaters panicked and fled, once they realised their leader had been killed. Only those who were either dead or incapacitated remained.
That was nearly a week ago, and the Order had finally gotten permission to search the houses of known Death Eaters. Malfoy Manor was one of the first to be searched, partly because all three Malfoys had been killed in the fight, and also because Dumbledore knew Lucius Malfoy had prisoners hidden in his home somewhere, he just had to find them.
After nearly three hours of searching, Severus finally found the hidden door that led to the Malfoy dungeons. He called for backup, and once Dumbledore and several members of the Order arrived they went looking for survivors.
What they found horrified them all, even Severus was reduced to tears at some of the sights before him. As he opened cell after cell, he was met with images that would haunt him for the rest of his life.
Young children we lying half naked in their own blood, whip marks clearly showing on their skinny backs. Women were shivering in corners, trying to keep away from Severus when he entered their cells. It didn't take a genius to work out that these women had been raped, mostly likely repeatedly. Grown men cowered away from Severus, begging not to be hurt again. But nothing caused him more pain then when he saw the body of someone he had once known. Within one of the cells he found the mangled body of Filius Flitwick. The charms professor had been taken after an attack on his family home shortly after the last school year had ended. He also found the bodies of Rosmerta from the Three Broomsticks and Amos Diggory and his wife. He couldn't help but feel oddly relieved that the two of them had both died. After the death of their son, they never fully recovered, but at least now they were a family again.
Cell after cell produced more victims of the Dark Lord. Those that could be saved were portkeyed to St Mungos. The others were left where they were for the time being, regardless of how cruel that may have seemed.
After searching for hours, Severus had finally worked his way down to what he hoped was the final level of the dungeons. It was freezing down here, and how anyone survived was anyone's guess. Severus assumed that was the whole point.
It was as he was opening one of the last cells, that he found the last person he ever expected to see again. He opened the door and light flooded into the surprisingly large cell, however most of it was still in shadow. Severus had a quick scan of the cell and was about to leave when he heard movement from the furthest corner. He turned back around and started walking towards the sound.
As he came closer, he realised that the dark shadows were slightly lighter in one corner. Crouching down he felt with his hand and was astounded to feel skin against his hand. "Lumos", he whispered softly, not wanting to frighten the person any more.
He moved the light over the body, thinking that the person had fallen unconscious. What he didn't expect was to see the bright green eyes of a boy long thought dead.
'Potter?' Severus couldn't believe what he was seeing. After all this time, Harry Potter was still alive…
Dear Merlin, Harry Potter was alive and had been held prisoner by Voldemort for over two years!
'Albus! Albus get in here now!' Snape quickly stood up and was about to run for help when he felt a small hand grip his ankle.
'Prof-professor, please. Don't le-leave me.' Snape turned back to the beaten boy. He was astounded at how skinny the boy was. He couldn't comprehend that a person could show that much bone and still be alive. Potter's entire face was hollow and Severus could clearly count every rib down the boy's front.
'Sir, sir I-I knew, knew you would come for m-me. Some- someone from the Or-order had to co-come even-tually.' Every word that Potter spoke was clearly causing him pain.
'Don't speak you foolish boy, help is coming.' Severus didn't know what was holding Albus up, but if he didn't come soon, Potter would be beyond their help.
'No-no it's to-to late for he-help now. I-I know I'm dy-dying but- but I had to hold on un-until help came. Thank-thank you si-sir. I only wish-'
Severus knew he had to keep Potter talking; it was the only thing keeping the boy conscious.
'What Potter? What do you wish? Come on you foolish Gryffindor, you have to keep talking, just until help comes.'
Potter opened his eyes again, and graced Severus with a small smile. "I-I wish that I cou-could have seen the st-stars again, jus-just one more time. I-I always love-loved looking at the stars at night.'
As Potter was talking, Dumbledore and the other Order members came into the cell. Severus heard Remus Lupin gasp when he saw who Severus was crouching down next to, but Severus chose to ignore it for the time being. Potter was much more important at the time.
Severus knew that he would not be able to get Potter to help in time. So he did the only thing he could do. As carefully as he could, he removed his cloak and wrapped it around Potter's lithe form. Then, very carefully, he picked up the body of James Potter's son and carried it out of the cell, barely glancing at Dumbledore as he passed. He knew he wouldn't be able to use magic on Potter; his body was far too damaged to be able to take the strain.
Severus made his way up and out of the manor, managing to keep the boy in his arms conscious until he could walk out into the moonlight. He walked out onto the grounds of the extensive manor and gently placed Harry, for he no longer resembled James Potter at all, on the soft grass.
'Harry, Harry open you eyes for me.'
Harry mumbled something almost indistinguishable, yet Severus was sure he heard 'sleepy' and 'Sirius' in the sentence.
'Please Harry, just open you eyes for a minute, then you can join your godfather.'
Severus didn't know why he was so desperate to grant Harry his final wish. Maybe it was because he felt guilty for allowing Voldemort to have Harry for so long without him realising. Perhaps it was because he finally had a chance to give something good to a person who had gone through so much. Severus didn't really know what it was, but when Harry opened his eyes and saw the stars above him, the smile that graced his face made weights Severus didn't even know existed, lift from his chest.
'Thank-thank you sir. It-it's so beau-beautiful. I'm just gla-glad I got to see them one-one last time.' Severus could see Harry was struggling to keep hie eyes open.
'Rest Harry. Go run off with that godfather of yours. Just try not to cause your mother too much strife. Lord knows she must get it enough from that father of yours. Go on Harry, close your eyes and sleep.'
And with that Harry Potter's eyes closed and his breathing slowed then stopped all together. Severus Snape wasn't sure when the boy finally stopped breathing, all he knew was that Harry had finally been given his last wish, and the smile on his face never left. All because he got one last look at the stars.