The Other Side
A/N: I almost forgot that I wrote this post DH fic next to the more pessimistic "Distrust." As it seems quite publishable, here you are. (-: DH canon compliant – except one minor-major detail that will be clear soon enough. (((-:
Oh yes, sure: nothing mine.
Betaed by JamesLuver - thank you! (-:
Summary: The end of DH from the perspective of "the other side" – major Slytherin characters. Hope, you wouldn't mind Lucius as I wrote him. Enjoy and please leave a review!
When Potter for once wordlessly obeyed and bowed over his weakening body, Snape looked into his painfully familiar green eyes, and greatly relieved for having the opportunity, incanted a silent and wandless Legilimens. He knew that casting this spell wandlessly would be taking too much of him now – and yet, for Lily's sake, Severus decided to risk his own demise. Now, unless he was very lucky, he would have no more power to cast the Accio he had intended to before the boy had appeared – neither to retrieve his wand, nor the potion vials hidden on his body. But he needed to know – had to know, if the boy would view the memories and if he had enough strength to do what was required of him…
When Severus found the hoped for resolve behind the green orbs, he inwardly sighed in relief. Now, his task was finished and he could go – not betraying Lily for the second time. No matter if there was nothing after the death or if he was condemned to spend his whole afterlife in the fires of hell for what he had – unwillingly of lately, but still – done, Snape knew that dying with this knowledge would pay for all the misery that was ahead of him. This thought in mind, his lids started to close and soon, Severus Snape moved no more.
Only vaguely, Severus took in that Potter had left the Shack. Then it was silent – both terribly and wonderfully quiet. In his final solitude, Snape felt how blood flew from his injured neck. Distantly, he knew that he was – with every drop of the precious hot liquid – losing the last reminders of his life force. But somehow, it didn't matter any more – or at least not as much as he had thought it would in the many sleepless nights up in Dumbledore's old quarters.
Dumbledore… With one last, weak smirk Snape recalled his predecessor's old declaration that help would be given in Hogwarts to all who would ask for it. And there he was, lying in the ever-growing pool of his own blood in a place he could have died already two times before because of the same old man's away turned eyes. Again something only the Gryffindors were granted, Snape thought bitterly and then the Professor knew nothing else…
When his eyes opened again, it was dark and he couldn't tell where he was. The only thing Snape was aware of was that he still lay flat on his back and felt strangely light-headed. He couldn't move, could neither swallow nor speak - but the blood flow had stopped. Severus briefly wondered if this could be the afterlife – for his idea of purgatory or even hell was much different – but he dismissed the thought rather quickly in the worry of what had happened back on the earth in the meantime. Had Potter really died? For Lily's sake, he hoped not… and equally, he prayed for a good end for his Slytherins, already condemned by so many … and Hogwarts in its whole.
Strange how one could grow to like a place one had suffered so much at! But the school had been his home and Slytherin his responsibility for far too long to not care now, Snape mused.
Pondering over the odds of Potter's and Hogwarts' surviving, the man once more slid in the unconsciousness.
Deadly exhausted but endlessly relieved, Narcissa Malfoy was leaning on her husband's shoulder while resting a hand on Draco's knee. The three of them didn't quite know what they were doing between all the celebrants and why they had even been allowed to stay – for they were neither happy nor did really belong in there, the Great Hall of the Hogwarts Castle.
The Malfoys remembered the Hall as a place where the Sorting Hat had kept calling for the House unity since anyone could remember – and they were only too well aware that the Hall became a place from where their own House was by far excluded that night.
Rightfully so? If what Potter had shouted at the Dark Lord about Severus's loyalties had been at least partially truth, then most certainly not. But Severus was dead now – and Narcissa knew she should miss him no matter what side he had really stood on. She wasn't so sure about Lucius – but then, her husband's worldviews had greatly changed in the last two years and friendship with Severus had remained one of the few constants no matter what…
But when one disregarded Severus, the most visible Slytherins these days were the Dark Lord and the Death Eaters who had remained faithful to him until the very end – unlike them. Narcissa was painfully aware that in the adjoined room lay the corpse of her sister and while she and Bellatrix hadn't seen eye-to-eye as of late, Bellatrix had still been close to her as the only remaining member of her maiden family – if one didn't count Andromeda, of course.
Andromeda! Now it occurred to Narcissa just who's body rested out there next to Bellatrix's. It was Nymphadora, that foolish girl of Andromeda's who had joined the Aurors and who of recently had a child with that Werewolf Lupin – who was also dead.
Narcissa shuddered, thinking of the many killed, not quite believing their luck – all three of them surviving and unharmed! She felt how her eyes watered and how relieved tears started to run down her cheeks...
It was very late, closer to morning than night, when the Great Hall finally started to empty. Narcissa was dozing on Lucius's shoulder by then and when Minerva McGonagall stood and announced that Hogwarts would provide beds for all remaining, she blinked her eyes open, positively confused. The Headmistress – Narcissa at least supposed that the title would go over to her now – wished them all good night and when walking out of the Hall, she missed the three of them so obviously that Narcissa dared to hope that they would be allowed to leave.
"Lucius?" she asked pointedly a while later and felt the man nodding.
"They will know where to find us, anyway. I don't plan to run off," he answered her quietly and softly kissed the top of her fair head before standing and helping her up. Once standing, Narcissa extended her hand to Draco and the small family quietly left the Hall, nobody halting them…
Supporting each other, the Malfoys slowly walked towards the castle gate while the skies in the east brightened and the first sunbeams illuminated the battlefield of the previous day. The bodies had been cleared away but the wreckage remained and the place still smelled of Dark Magic and blood, grass tainted by it here and there. Draco surveyed the damage with wide eyes, trembling in aftershock. He was extremely lucky to walk out of here on his own feet, extremely fortunate to have all who really mattered to him surviving as well.
The boy walked next to his parents and for the first time in his life, he found himself praying in gratitude. He'd pleaded with God the last year when he had despaired, yes – but that had been the immature boy within him who had still secretly wanted to please the Dark Lord and prove himself worth his praise and trust. The Draco of today wasn't 17 anymore; no, his mind was much older – and his eyes had seen too much. But he had survived and his closest with him and for that he now thanked to those guarding him from above.
Still in the middle of his prayer, Draco's eyes fell on the wreckage of a house that stood on the boundaries of Hogwart's grounds – the Shrieking Shack. When he had been younger, he had believed the house to be haunted and once even ran from it in dread – but now, now he gazed at it and felt a sudden stab of pain in his chest. He couldn't help but cry out and, leaving his bewildered parents behind him, raced to it, his heart shattering at the thought of the man who lay, lifeless, inside the house.
"Professor!" the boy cried again and thrust the door open. "Professor," he repeated, his voice breaking, when he saw Snape lying in the pool of his blood on the floor and knelt, his eyes veiled with a stream of tears. "Professor," he whispered once more and took the bloodied hard hand in his. "I am so very sorry."
When Draco suddenly cried out, Lucius hastily turned around in worry and from the corner of his eye saw that so did Narcissa. "Draco?" he heard Narcissa asking and then he himself shouted "Draco!" when the boy decided to sprint to the Shrieking Shack. Lucius had no desire to enter that place ever again; once again, he felt a stab of guilt for sending Severus there, to the mercy of the Dark Lord. But what else was I supposed to do? Lucius sighed, painfully clutching Narcissa's hand in his.
"He is not taking it well," Narcissa remarked softly when they followed Draco to the house, carefully trying to determine what Lucius himself was feeling. Had she openly asked, Lucius would have replied that he himself didn't know. Severus had been an enigma to him for a better part of their life – and yet, he had thought him a close friend and was almost sure Severus had felt similarly about their family… but still, the man had betrayed them. And Lucius both hated and admired him for it.
"No, he is not," Lucius said aloud, forcing himself to keep walking. He dreaded what they would find in the house – the Dark Lord hadn't been merciful to his victims. While Lucius had been guilty of many atrocities himself, he had never really enjoyed the sight of the remainders of the Dark Lord's executions. Should he enjoy it more now when Snape had proven a traitor? Or should he mourn a friend? Lucius was conflicted and would have preferred not to have to enter the place.
Narcissa's hand guiding him; he did enter it anyway – to find his son sobbing over Snape's body clothed in blood-soaked black robes. Severus, you damned bastard, he thought, betraying us for that Mudblood – it was for her, wasn't it? … I thought we were friends. Lucius liberated his hand from Narcissa's hold and approached Snape's body with the greatest desire to kick the man, kick his lifeless body – and get some sense into him.
"Don't," Narcissa's hand touched his forearm, his wife clearly well aware of what he had intended to do. "Not in front of Draco," she added quietly, hating herself for that lie – but this was neither place nor time to argue over Severus's conflicted loyalties and his proximity to their family.
Lucius nodded and halted, staring at the body. The blood pool sickened him and he knew that Narcissa and Draco had to feel worse – but Severus had earned it. Had the Dark Lord known of his betrayal, he would have thrown him to his Werewolves and not given him the mercy of a single Nagini bite… Yes, the bastard had still ended rather well, Lucius mused, turning away from the sight to one of the windows.
For a while, Malfoy senior simply stared out of the dusty window – then, thinking the boy had had enough time to come to terms with this, he ordered harshly: "Get the boy, Narcissa. We are leaving."
Turning to them, Lucius saw how Narcissa gently attempted to raise Draco from the ground and how the stupid boy embraced Severus's body instead. Narcissa had to slowly pry the boy's fingers that had clutched Snape's robes open now – and doing it, she accidentally touched Severus's body herself. Her hand forcing Draco to let go off Severus's chest stopped then, her eyes growing wide and she, uncertainly, searched for Lucius's sight.
Her eyes full of sudden fear, Narcissa slowly stood, letting her son do whatever he pleased for the time being. Slowly approaching Lucius, she never let her eyes waver and Lucius felt as though her gaze was studying him and praying with him to do as she wished. Finally, she stood in front of him and took his hands in hers, her pocketed wand well in his reach, he noticed. "He is alive," she breathed and Lucius tried to escape her knowing eyes. "You will not kill him, will you?" Narcissa whispered, her voice hopeful and Lucius took a deep breath.
For a while he was deadly quiet; then, as if something in Narcissa's voice finally overpowered him, he returned her sight and very slowly shook his head. "No, I don't think so," he said and walked towards the bloodied body.
It was a pitiful sight and Lucius rapidly found himself more sorry than angry. "He also didn't care which side we stood on, did he?" he remarked softly and knelt at Snape's side. Narcissa's eyes filled as she approached them and rested a hand on her husband's shoulder. "No, he didn't," she confirmed quietly through the veil of tears and now resolutely pulled Draco up. "He is alive, Draco," she smiled at him. "Let us tend to him."
The boy didn't believe her at first – mother and father had lied to him often enough in the past year, falsely promising him that everything would turn all right and then, in the privacy of their room, entrusting their fears to each other. Draco hadn't been able to sleep many of those nights and when the Dark Lord and aunt Bellatrix hadn't been present at the house, he had wandered the place, mostly ending up at their door. Usually, he had rested his hand on the doorknob, reminded of safer times when he had only needed to enter their bedroom to be comforted from a nightmare - and hearing a lot that had not been intended for his ears…
"I know, Cissy. It's a miracle that he is even alive," his father's harsh voice remarked from beneath him and brought Draco back to the present. The boy saw that his mother was now also kneeling at Snape's side and was frantically moving her wand over the Professor - crying when reading the results of her diagnostics. "I don't think I am able to help him, Lucius -" her voice shook "- He has lost too much blood - and… and, it is really strange. He should be still bleeding… Nagini - if it was really her - her poison… it made it impossible for wounds to close by themselves, Lucius."
"Knowing Severus, he had antidote on himself and timely swallowed it," his father smirked.
Mother shook her head. "No, I haven't found any trace of potion in his body… But… if he brewed them - and carried them on him - it might be what's saved him…" Greatly relieved, she smiled at his father through her tears and extended her wand arm to cast an Accio. Her hand shook in fear, however - fear that she wouldn't be able to find what she was searching for. "Lucius?" she asked softly and passed him the wand. Draco stared at his father taking the wand in his hand - and noticed the sudden dangerous look in his eyes.
Mum, he wanted to cry out in warning, he himself frozen on the spot, he will kill him. Then, however, father's eyes fell back on his Professor's bloodied body and softened. "Accio potions," Lucius said and extended his hand to catch the appearing vials. He handed them over to Narcissa who nodded. "Blood replenishing potion," she said, now finally calmed and fed it to the unconscious man on the floor. Then, she sniffed the contents of other three vials - all of them of the same colour. "One is surely a deadly poison," she explained her hesitation and both Lucius and Draco nodded, the older man having one similar vial himself.
"This one - I think," Narcissa decided finally and poured it in Severus's mouth. She closed her eyes then and they waited - and feared the outcome. Draco noticed that even his father turned away for a moment. The boy briefly debated it himself but found that he was unable to move. It was he therefore, who first saw the Professor's eyes flicker and said, relieved, "It was the right potion, mum…"
His mother opened her eyes and gently smiled, softly caressing the Professor's deadly white cheek. "Welcome back, Severus," she whispered. His father was quiet for a long time and Draco noticed that he still had his mother's wand. Father? He hoped that he was mistaken. And then he saw something he hadn't thought ever possible - his father cried. The man dropped back to the ground and reached for his old friend's body, raising it and embracing him. "You traitorous bastard," he said softly and then, together with Narcissa pulled the injured man up. "Let us go home."
Draco watched how his parents stumbled over Snape's weight and then finally straightened, his father supporting the Professor and his mother again taking hold of her wand and charming one of the dusty windows on Hogsmeade's side away so that they could leave the grounds of the school and wouldn't have to go all the way back to the gate. "Come, Draco," she turned to him and he nodded, one last time looking at the room with blood pooled on the floor.
From the corner of the room, a new-born scarlet and golden bird intensely stared at him now from a pile of ashes, softly trilling at him and his parents' back, answering the question of the Professor's survival and his still weakened state. Phoenixes on their burning days manage only so much... Draco recalled and smiled in gratitude; then he climbed out of the window after his parents. Several meters further, his mother waited for him - and together they finally Apparated home.