Holy Hannah, guys! This was supposed to be a one-shot… not a three-shot! Though I am rather afraid it may turn into a four-shot. Wrap it all up with Harry, hmm?

Still in first person, from Snape's point of view this time! Also… the ending deviates from canon, but canon can still be mostly salvaged. It just worked better, and the ending of HBP always disappointed me a bit.


The worst feeling in the world is the feeling of asphyxiation.

I remember Draco as a baby, gazing down at him as he lay in his crib, Narcissa hovering nearby with such a conflicting look of love and duty on her face. All purebloods realize that children are liabilities as much as gifts. Children can be used as incentive to get parents to vote a certain way, make a particular commitment. Draco was a particularly beautiful and talented child. I knew from the moment I met him he was destined for great things in life, and was pleased to be a part of it, no matter how indirectly. When the Potter spawn was born I couldn't be bothered, couldn't bear to attend, any of the customary viewing and admiring. In hindsight, this was a terrible oversight. Surviving as a spy all these many years, I know better than anyone to maintain a connection, be it direct or twisted, with both enemies and allies. It is an imperative tool for ensuring survival. But I overlooked Harry Potter. Blinded by hatred, prejudice, jealous, petty emotions I knew better than to indulge in, I missed the opportunity to realize that he was different than James. Different than Lily. And now, the only emotions I am capable of are self-disgust… and the uncanny feeling that I cannot breathe.

I should have known from the moment they met that I was in trouble. Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy, so much antagonism generated between the two of them you could almost taste the residual magic as they blended and sparked off the other. But what is the opposite of antagonism if not synergy? And how does one define synergy? A mutually advantageous conjunction, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts; behavior of whole systems, unpredicted by the behavior of their parts taken separately. Definitions exist to promote a sense of control out of unfamiliar circumstances or elements. How do you define the indefinable?

Again with the self-disgust. That day, so many months ago, finding you together in my classroom, the way you looked at me when you told me, informed me, I was to spare Draco and kill the Headmaster myself. I felt myself blanche, felt the blood leach from my body and redistribute itself, felt such a bone-deep elemental want. The two of you together, Draco tucked against you in a pose that should have looked weak but screamed of strength. There was something in your expression, in your eyes, something dark and enticing and raw that I swear I would have seen before had I relied upon my carefully honed instincts. I knew what you were going to ask me before you formed the words, and I amazed myself with wanting to volunteer.

Oh, Draco explained to me the best he could about broken swords needing reforging and rings that capture men's souls. He forgets sometimes that my father was a Muggle. I have read The Lord of the Rings, and have read more into it than he can comprehend. My mother inadvertently gave me the tools to become a spy by encouraging me to learn Muggle and magical literature, broaden my horizons, know thy enemy. Putting me to sleep as a child, she would kiss my forehead and stroke my hair, telling me about how she named me after Saint Sulpicious Severus – a noble man who broke from his father to follow Christ. He fell away from his teachings, allowed himself to be swayed by fancy ideals, but later repented. Always subtle with the symbolism, my mother. My birth father took a more vicious approach in his son's literary education, giving me the obvious tools needed for a spy to be successful: suspicion of authority, questioning the accepted rhetoric, always looking for the double meaning.

Tolkien was an anarchist. Because it was published in the 1950's, many people thought the One Ring was an allegory to the nuclear bomb that had so recently desecrated Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Whether that were the case or not, Tolkien could have been waxing poetic over coming together to defeat an evil, or discussing ways to ruin societies, I neither know nor care. But searching for the veiled symbolism, and questioning authority, I can see the seductive allure of the ring, and how Harry Potter closely resembles a nuclear bomb waiting to detonate.

A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from either fission, or a combination of fission or fusion. Dumbledore failed Harry Potter last year. The boy sought out his Godfather after Nagini's attack on Arthur, and told him he felt a snake rising inside of him. When Black informed the Order, the Headmaster dismissed this, claiming Harry was confused and under copious amounts of pressure. But I knew better. Those Occlumency lessons where I delved inside the boys mind taught me more about Harry Potter than I had ever wanted to learn. Devious, capable, adaptable, resourceful, powerful. Oh yes, the power was ripe in that boy-child, ripe and ready to be auctioned off to the highest bidder. Dumbledore may have had the boys' heart, but the Dark Lord had staked his claim on his mind, imprinted a portion of himself into Potter's soul. I wonder if Harry knows that I rushed that night. That night when he looked at me from Umbridge's office and begged me with his eyes to find Sirius Black. I knew the boy thought of him as a pseudo father, and I rushed, damn near running through the halls in order to reach a safe place to contact him. And when the light side failed him, and his Godfather slipped beyond the veil, I knew by the subtle tightening of Harry's mouth that the darkness in him was spreading, growing, no longer held in check with clear-cut notions of right and wrong.

Yes, I've read his book series. And while Draco may be the Sword, and Harry may be the Ring, the character I have always strived to emulate was Galadriel. A woman, I can hear the uninformed, ill-educated, seek to question. Yet she was near-perfect, ethereal and mysterious, proud and ambitious, with the ability to see into others minds and know their thoughts and hidden desires, subtly manipulate others to her whims. She would have made the perfect spy. Her image drove me to learn the painful art of Occlumency, drove me further to master it. There was nothing outwardly weak about the Lady Galadriel, and much like the Lady of the Light I find myself wanting to turn to Harry and scream at him, "you bring great doom here, ring-bearer!" Yet also like the Lady, I seek to contradict myself by acknowledging that he also brings great hope. Though I am powerless to contain the Ring, I, too, will do everything in my power to ensure it reaches its destination safely.

They meet frequently in the Potions classroom. Draco doesn't understand the symbolism of the meeting place, but Harry does. I watch them together. The way Draco, so talented and strong, bows under the force of Harry's appeal. I watch Harry enter him, control him, mark up his pretty body with the zealous gusto of an artist presented with fresh canvas. And Draco keens and begs and opens himself up for more. I watch them together, hidden in the safety of the shadows, pressed against the damp walls of the dungeons, and when Harry looks up and sees me watching and our eyes connect…. I am not physically attracted to Harry Potter. But I want him. I want the wild power in him, the swirl of darkness in his bright eyes, something integral inside of me wants to lower myself before this man-child and beg him to mark me so that I may feel the purification of release. So that I can breathe unimpeded. Blood status means nothing; Draco has finally learned this after surviving this long and tense year. But letting someone break you and remake you in their image… had the Dark Lord learned to successfully execute this ideal the world would be his. As it is, I am much afraid it will soon be Harry's. And every time Harry brings Draco to the Potions classroom, every time he allows me to watch him break and reform and burn the sins from Draco's flesh until he is quivering and raw and pure, he meets my eyes and promises me a similar type of release, of salvation, should I promise him aid.

Nuclear weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction. Even a small nuclear device can devastate a city. I no longer am aware of who I am trying to convince with my token refusal. My Vow to Narcissa aside, I knew the moment I looked at the two of them that I would hold a wand to my mentor's head and end his life. I know this about myself even as I hate myself for this knowledge. I sit in meetings, prostrate myself before the Dark Lord, deal with children and adults and children pretending to be adults, and all the time my chest is constricted and not a word is uttered in protest of the task before me. Dumbledore knows of my vow, is aware of the attempts on his life, yet does not realize his greatest weapon, his Harry, is the ultimate master-mind and new controlling force behind it.

I can feel it coming in the air tonight, long before I am informed the Headmaster will be leaving the castle and Order members will be making random patrols of the hallways. With the knocking on my door I slip into the role I have been taught since birth to play. I stun Flitwick, send Hermione and Luna in to attend to him, and rush to the Astronomy Tower. Yet even as I race through the halls that have long offered me protection, through friends and foes fighting, neither knowing whom represents which group; I am singularly focused on my goal. I wish for privacy, subtlety, so that I may acknowledge my leader in a brief but heart-felt farewell. Draco is there, tears in his eyes and wand shaking in his grasp, but Yaxley and the Carrow's are there as well, the werewolf Greyback smacking his lips in a revolting display. And Dumbledore is weak, crumpled on the floor, begging me with gasping breath to spare Draco from committing murder. Draco hasn't moved from my side and I briefly wonder why. Then my eyes sweep the scene, lingering on the two discarded broomsticks, and I know why he waits. He is strong, but needs Harry to reassure him. I've been waiting for this moment for all my life.

"Avada Kedavra!"

I watch the body rise, suspended with nothing but the glowing green of the Dark Mark behind him, before starting the gravitational descent to earth. And I can breathe again. I force the Death Eaters to leave… and then pause, turning, unsurprised to see Harry Potter pulling off his Invisibility Cloak. Draco makes an incomprehensible noise deep in his throat before flinging himself into Potter's arms. I want to bow before him, want him to rip me apart and plead with him to heal me the way he so effortlessly exerted his control over Draco, but I can't. Like Galadriel, I can tell by the look in his eyes that something inside of this man-child has changed and my supplication would do nothing to ease my judgment.

Harry tightens his grasp of Draco and half-drags half-pulls the boy to the edge of the tower. He stares at the body below, face twisted in grief, tears running unchecked down his face. Draco pulls him close, pressing their mouths together in a desperate clashing of lips and teeth and tongue. Someone draws blood, and Harry licks the crimson drops from the corner of Draco's mouth while I, once again, stand and watch them from the shadows; my own grief tempered with the desperate need for benediction. Where is my promised salvation? Green eyes, dark with power and raw emotions, meet mine. What has changed, what had he done with Dumbledore this night to make him look at me in just this way?

"You were the one who informed Voldemort of the prophecy and made my parents targets."

My lungs constrict. I fall to my knees, knowing we don't have time to resolve this violation of ideals, knowing there are mere seconds left before the Death Eaters flee the castle and my life becomes forfeit. I am a strong man, a spy, a master of difficult to understand magics. Strong men know that sometimes there is no shame in begging, that pride always goes before the fall. Unlike Galadriel I do not have a pool of water that shows visions, partly out of the mind and memory of the viewer, and partly of distant places. I don't know what will become of me. All I know is that Harry Potter has wild magic that I crave, and I cannot breathe while he glares at me with such venom. He is dangerous and captivating, alluring as he stands bathed in the darkness, and I want and need and for the first time in twenty years I don't know what to do.

Draco lowers his head, kissing Harry's neck, his cheek, his eyes, and once again his mouth. "I have to go," he whispers. "We have to go or the Dark Lord will be suspicious."

Harry maintains eye contact with me and I am powerless before him. "No," his voice is firm. "You will stay." His eyes are boring deep into me, easing the pressure in my chest. Tears are falling from my eyes, and still, I will beg him if only he will let me. "This war is not won, yet." He looks away from me finally, a flash of gold catching my eye as I note the necklace he is toying with. "I know what must be done; I will need all the tools I can get."

He has debased me into a tool and I don't care. Galadriel was strong enough to resist the ring, but I am no immortal. I am powerless before him, before them both, and I can see it, am smart enough to acknowledge it. I want him to use me, wish to serve him, because now only he is strong enough to redeem me. I watch Draco, no longer a beautiful baby but a boy on the cusp of man-hood, and I see the way he shines in Harry's presence. He has been rescued, been given a second chance at life. I am not attracted to Harry Potter, but I crave his special brand of darkness and power. I hate him, and I crave him, and I need him to let me breathe. All I can do is nod, bowing my head, and wait until he grants me clemency.

A simple slash of my wrist and the ward I placed at the bottom of the stairs falls. I half turn, still kneeling on the floor, with my wand raised to protect my One Ring and his Sword from those who seek their destruction. It is McGonagall who enters first, and I relax fractionally as she looks around the room. I know what she will see. Me, on my knees, tears on my face. Draco, burrowed in Harry's arms. Harry, looking older and wiser and more vibrant than she has ever seen him. The Gryffindor who can not lie with a straight face is telling his Head of House how all year-long Draco has been trying to thwart Death Eaters from entering Hogwarts by concocting erroneous schemes to garner Dumbledore's attention. How Hermione and Luna alerted me to the fact Death Eaters were in the castle and I rushed to assist my Godson, arriving just in time to witness Dumbledore's death but helpless to prevent it.

She can't possibly believe it, but people often believe what they want to in times of great stress. McGonagall has tears running down her face as she helps me to my feet and wipes my eyes, softly telling me not to blame myself before embracing me as a friend. I meet Harry's eyes over her shoulder, watching him cuddle with Draco, a look of grim satisfaction momentarily replacing the devastation in his eyes. My placement as a spy is secure on both sides, only one claiming my loyalty. I wrap my arms around the shivering woman, holding her in a light parody of a hug as I nod my understanding. Unlike Galadriel, I did not turn away from the allure of the ring. I embraced it. I am a spy, and thus have no fear of losing my cultivated identity. With his approval, the power, the light, the air, relaxes my chest and fills me; sweetening my very breath.

All shall love me and despair.