Authors Note: This is the last chapter! Hope you don't hate it, I like it well enough. I know the characters get VERY out of character here, but that's just how things came out. Besides, I've conditioned them with some traumas before this, as I'm sure you remember. Thank you to all reviewers; Thanks for the encouragement, the constructive criticism and for sharing your opinions ^^ It has been very interesting reading what you all think, so one last time thank you. I hope I didn't break anyone's heart with all the traumatic tragedy, but this story was originally designed to be angsty. Oh well, I hope you enjoyed my story anyhow, I enjoyed writing it (sadistic as that might sound). Now that's it; here's the very last chapter :3
Chapter thirteen – To disappear
After Poppy left, Severus had gone back to surveying the potion he was brewing; the 'viscus letum' elixir.
The 'viscus letum' was known among potion makers to be one of the most lethal poisons one could brew in a fairly short amount of time. It literally broke your heart, stopping the bloods circulation, killing you within a few minutes after ingestion.
Putting the ingredients together was a quick process, but then the elixir needed to mature for several hours before becoming potent. Watching over this process, waiting for the draught to adopt the right color, Severus had little to do. He was seated on the floor in his bedroom, staring at the small cauldron holding the key to his final escape.
Should he write a note? No, he saw no point. He always thought the concept of suicide notes very melodramatic.
Should he try to tell Harry how sorry he was? That he realized how wrong he had been? No, that was of no use as well, it would be a gesture so inadequate it would seem almost a mockery. Harry had no use for his regret.
I have wanted this for so long, it feels like forever. I can't even remember a time when this wasn't what I wanted most… The only think keeping me here was the hope for redemption… But now, when there can be none, when what I have done is so atrocious it doesn't matter what I do anymore, because nothing, nothing will ever erase it… Now I can't make myself stay. Not even to pay… for what I did. I suppose I always was rather selfish, somehow. I wanted redemption for me, for my sake, so that I could finally die with my mind at peace one day. I will leave now, because I can and because it is what I want… I am selfish. But I can't be any other way; it's all I've ever known. Despite everything… I'm just so relieved I am finally going to leave, that I can finally disappear… that I won't have to live with this world… live with myself… live… anymore. I can finally have what I have wanted for so long; my peace of mind is in oblivion, it has to be… The only way my mind can find any rest is if I don't exist. It won't matter what I've become, for soon it will be as if I never existed… I won't know… I won't know anything at all, because I won't be.
What he owed Harry was something he could never repay. What Severus owed the world, was a debt in itself. But so was the world's debt to him. His debt to Harry however… was infinite, impossible to repay. It was too late; nothing he could do would ever be enough.
So instead of trying, he would do something for himself, he was finally going to do what he wanted most in the world, to disappear.
Everything else… He couldn't think of anything else, he wouldn't… The reality of what he had done to Harry, that he had destroyed an innocent boy, and not only that, but the fact that he had killed what would have been his own son… He could not think about that, not in terms of reality. He had wanted to kill himself as it was… Instead he had torn someone else's world apart. He had stayed too long, much too long.
He would give himself what he wanted most. The things he had done were monstrous, the damage that was his entire fault, irreparable. Never again, he would never hurt anyone else again. He would do what he should have done long ago.
The 'viscus letum' was just turning the perfect shade of midnight blue. Severus smiled; another perfect potion, his last.
With steady hands he reached into the cauldron, filling a small goblet with the poisonous liquid. Slowly bringing it towards his lips he closed his eyes… But it never met its target. Instead the goblet was magically ripped from his hands, hitting the wall opposite him making a terrible noise. Opening his eyes and turning his head he found himself looking up at Albus Dumbledore in the most terrifying, powerful cold rage he had ever witnessed. The chill of meeting those icy blue eyes made the discomfort of looking into Voldemorts evil red ones pale in comparison.
As he approached Snape's quarters Dumbledore simply made a sweeping motion with his hand, and his raw power magnified by his rage was enough to effortlessly erase the wards protecting it.
The portrait did not even question him, but immediately fell open. In the doorway, surveying Severus' familiar living room he noted the disarray of scattered furniture and other objects all over the floor, the broken glass and… the blood. Harry's blood, Albus realized, growing colder. This was real, what Poppy had told him were not just horrible words anymore.
At that moment he hated, more intensely than he had ever hated in his entire long life. He hated Severus more than he ever did Voldemort at that moment. He had yet to see Harry for himself, but just the words, what he was seeing… Severus was going to pay for this. He had no excuse, nothing could ever excuse this. There was no punishment harsh enough for what he had done.
He ripped the door to Severus bedroom open, finding Snape seated on the floor, his eyes closed, raising a goblet containing something to his lips. He magically sent it flying, he knew that potion; a very potent poison.
He stared down at the man he had once considered dear to him, unfortunately misunderstood, but a good man. He felt no pity, no mercy for this man anymore.
He never would have thought that he could truly pitilessly hate anyone, but he had been wrong. He hated Severus; he didn't care anymore what he had lived through.He was not taking the easy escape, Albus wouldn't let him.
He met those charcoal eyes, not quite empty, not indifferent, but with their usual emotionless aura.
"You coward", Albus spat, his lip curling in contempt. He got no response. "You are not taking such an easy way out, you will pay for what you have done, one way or the other", Albus stated, his voice glacial. "There is hardly any retribution severe enough for what you have done, but death… Death is nothing. You will live with what you have done. Don't you have anything to say? What do you have to say for yourself!?"
"Nothing. I have nothing to say."
Dumbledore stared hard into those apathetic dark orbs before shaking his head. "If I stay here much longer I am going to kill you, and you deserve so much worse than that. Harry… Harry will get to decide what he wants to happen to you. He is the one who has the right to", Albus' eyes narrowed. "I will take your wand and empty these rooms of potions ingredients. I am going to cast two charms, one which will prevent you from leaving these quarters under any circumstances, and one which will effectively stop any attempt you may make at harming yourself. I do not recommend attempts at defying them", he sneered, with a disgusted curl of his lip turning away from the man sitting motionlessly on the floor.
Half an hour later Albus was walking into the infirmary. The room was quiet, until Poppy's steps appeared from her office.
"Albus! What did you do?" she looked worried.
"For now I have just contained him to his quarters. I will think of what to do with him later. How is…?" Dumbledore's voice started out cold but grew anxious with his half-formed question. Madam Pomfrey motioned towards the only occupied bed in the hospital wing. Albus hesitantly walked closer.
"He's still asleep, which is just as well. He needs a lot of rest for his body to recuperate effectively." She spoke with her voice slightly hushed, following Albus who had stopped by Harry's bedside.
Dumbledore surveyed the boy on the bed, and all the hate he'd been filled with drained from him, leaving him feeling worn out and hopeless. Harry looked young, and so broken. His still form lay in a hospital gown, covers up to his waist, one arm resting beside him, the other draped over his stomach.
Albus would have liked to have said he looked peaceful in sleep at least, but that would have been a lie. His muscles were relaxed, but the expression on his face was frozen in an awful sort of resignation. He did not look peaceful.
Albus gently touched his cheek which was bruised and a bit cold. Dropping his hand he frowned. "Why haven't you healed these terrible bruises yet?" he inquired.
"Like I said before, even before losing the baby his magic was exhausted by the healing it had already aided. After the miscarriage, even after his magical reserves have recovered, it's not under control and won't be for several days, its help in healing him is therefore unreliable."
"What other injuries were there?" Albus' face had turned grimmer. Poppy retrieved the old diagnosis note from her pocket handing it to him. His expression grew more and more severe as he read the list through.
"How did he acquire all these cuts?"
"Some of them… the ones on his legs and in his face still had shards stuck in them, I think from a broken vase. The cuts on his back on the other hand… I don't know what they were from, they were quite deep and they were surrounded by a lot of severe bruising. There was nothing stuck in them, and the bruises were mostly oddly shaped, thin and long. They must have been made by something very hard and oblong, with something sharp attached to it…" she speculated quietly, looking ill. Feelings of wrath started rising inside Albus' chest again, until his inner reflections were interrupted by another voice.
"The fire iron." Albus hastily turned his head, eyes widening. Harry's eyes were wide open now, gaze fixated on the ceiling above him.
"Harry! You're awake. How… I'm so sorry. I… if I could have ever guessed how deep Severus' problems truly ran, that he would… I would never have left you with him…" Albus rambled, for once in his life not knowing at all what to say.
It wasn't made any easier by the fact that Harry didn't answer with as much as a glance in their direction.
"How are you feeling Harry? Are you in any pain?" Madam Pomfrey inquired.
Harry slowly turned his head slightly to look at her as if she was an idiot. What was more disturbing about his eyes though was what lay beneath the shallow look of annoyance; they were so hollow, hollow in a way Harry's eyes had never been before. Albus' breath caught.
"Well, hrrm … I'll be in my office for now, I assume the two of might want to speak privately. Just call me if you need me…" she quickly left them, closing the door behind her.
"Harry I… There's not even anything I can say. I am so very sorry. This should never have happened…"
Harry had turned his hollow gaze back to the white ceiling. Albus trailed off, Harry didn't even look to be listening to him. "Harry…"
"Severus will pay for what he has done, one way or the other." Dumbledore could think of nothing else to say right now.
"What difference does it make?" Harry asked, his question sounding rhetorical due to its impassive tone.
After a long while of silence Albus answered anyhow. "I suppose it doesn't really. Not to you."
"No… Not to me", Harry whispered. Albus desperately caught a hold of Harry's hand, holding onto it as if his life depended upon never letting it go. Harry just looked dispassionately down at their clasped hands, his expression giving the impression he was looking at something that was in no way connected to him. Raising his other arm he started drawing strange shapes in the air above him.
"It doesn't matter. There is nothing you can say, you don't have to try. Nothing matters."
Albus felt his heart break at those impassively uttered words.
"Harry, no. Of course-"
"No. Don't. There is not anything you can say. So don't", Harry said softly.
Albus had never felt this helpless. Miserably he watched this blank shell that was supposed to be his Harry, until the boy fell asleep again.
The following day was Christmas Eve. Albus always loved the holidays, but this year he barely even acknowledged it. He went back of course to visit Harry in the hospital wing.
He was no different from what he had been like the day before. The shell in the hospital bed was still not Albus' Harry.
What scared him was that he knew that this was no temporary depression. He would have preferred to believe that it was that, a passing phase. He could see that it wasn't though; this was Harry now, the new, irrevocably altered version of Harry.
The worst part to Albus was he did not know how to help him. He did not know what to do for him. He just didn't know.
Dumbledore was back again soon after he woke up. The old man wouldn't leave his side. Harry wished that he would. He couldn't stand his company anymore. He just couldn't stand being around him, or anyone else. He wanted to be left alone.
What he wanted more than anything was to leave this place; he couldn't stand its familiarity.
He wasn't himself anymore, he wasn't who he used to be and this place felt wrong. He wanted to remember it as he used to see it; he wanted to remember everyone and everything he'd previously known as how it'd seemed before.
He needed to leave, that was what he needed to do. He couldn't stay here, this place was not his home anymore, this was where 'Harry' had belonged. He didn't feel this was who he was anymore and he knew he no longer belonged to this place.
He could not stay here, it hurt so much, and he couldn't stand it. He needed to run, to go someplace else.
Dumbledore had told him about what had happened to Snape. He had almost guessed that Snape wanted to die, long before this. It had been in his eyes, which weren't so empty if you knew how to look. Having spent enough time in his presence it was almost impossible to miss it. Harry had noticed it, though he hadn't recognized it immediately for what it was.
He couldn't help but feel Dumbledore should have let him do what he wanted. Albus had felt death on his own terms too light a 'punishment' for what he had done.
Harry didn't see how retribution, revenge in any form, would change anything. He held no desire for it.
Not because he cared about Snape, he didn't, and he would never forgive him. But he hadn't felt vengeful, even for a second. He just felt empty.
He didn't really know what it was that compelled him to late that evening get out of bed. He had finally been left alone, after he had feigned sleep an hour ago.
He was not as heavily doped up on pain potions as he had been, and so his healing body ached. His broken wrist and many cuts had all been healed. What remained where mostly a lot of bruises, scars and slight ache where the newly healed injuries had been.
Most serious was the incision-wound which had yet to scar. It was healing, but slowly as his magic was not yet of much assistance. He was heavily bandaged around his midsection.
Because of this in combination with his many aches he moved ever so slowly. There were no people out in the corridors though and eventually he had found his way down into the dungeons, standing before the portrait guarding what had been his and Severus' quarters.
"Oh dear, how are you? You scared me the last time I saw you-"
Harry interrupted the woman in the portrait who looked troubled, with the password. "But-"
"I have given you the correct password, now let me in", Harry interrupted coolly.
Giving him a hesitant look the portrait finally fell open and Harry entered. The living room had not been cleaned. It felt rather morbid viewing his own dried in blood on the floor.
Opening the door to Severus' bedroom he found the potions master sitting on the floor. He looked terrible; his black slacks and white dress shirt filthy, his dark hair greasier than ever, hanging in front of his face as his head was tipped forward.
As if feeling Harry's scrutiny he looked up. His eyes were blood-shot and they did not reflect their usual emptiness, even on the surface. Instead they were filled with pain, pain so raw it was almost palpable, impossible to miss. He looked to be in mental agony, and having been so for a very long time.
Their eyes stayed locked for a long moment and neither spoke. Then Harry nodded lightly.
"I'm going to give you what you want most in the world. I'm going to take all your pain away."
Snape didn't say anything; he just cocked his head raising an eyebrow, the infinite never-ending agony of his soul reflected through his eyes not fading for a second. Then he nodded as if in understanding.
"Thank you", his whisper was almost imperceptible but Harry had heard it. He turned his back on Snape, making his way to the liquor cabinet in the living room.
One after the other he opened the bottles of fire whisky in there, pouring them across the floor, over the furniture, everywhere. When the room was thoroughly drenched he carefully, as to not upset the stitches in his incision wound, bent in front of the hearth. Reaching in, he carefully took one of the burning pieces of wood out of the fire by its unburned end.
He then dragged its burning tip across the floor, following the trail of whisky which continued in every direction. Standing up he watched it spread rapidly.
Above the eating flames he saw Snape through the open door to the other room. Pain still radiated of off him, though the flames had not yet touched him, but he wore a small smile, the first genuine one Harry had ever seen on him. He turned away, leaving the quarters before the flames could lock him in.
The next morning Dumbledore appeared in the infirmary once again, his usual forced cheerful smile in place. So no one had found Snape yet then. This did not surprise Harry, no one lived anywhere near him, and so no one would have heard his screams, if in fact he did scream.
One of the upsides with living in a dungeon with stone walls was that a potential fire didn't spread beyond the rooms between which there were wooden doors; nothing outside of the quarters would have been damaged.
"Good morning Harry. How are you doing?"
Harry shrugged. He was sitting up in his bed now, which was a lot more comfortable when talking to someone than lying down looking up at them. Albus took a seat and looked like he was just about to start small talking about one of his usual trivial subjects to fill the silent void. Harry decided he'd rather not go there today. "You should check the dungeons", he said bluntly.
Dumbledore frowned. "Why is that, my boy?"
"Snape's quarters are burned out and he's dead."
Dumbledore's eyes widened and he stiffened. "…What?"
"He's dead. I went down there yesterday after you and Madam Pomfrey left. I lit it on fire", he said casually, in a tone implying he was talking about nothing more unusual than the weather.
Dumbledore was very pale. "I see… I thought you did not care for revenge?"
"I never said that, I said I didn't expect it to change anything. Besides, I didn't do it for vengeance. I did it… Actually I don't even know why. It felt… right."
"It felt… right?" Dumbledore stared at him in disbelief, looking at him as if he had never seen him before.
"Yes. You asked before if there was anything you could do for me. There is one thing", Harry said seriously. "I'm going to leave. And you are going to help me."
A moment passed before Dumbledore responded. "Leave? And go where?"
"Anywhere. Anywhere but here. I can't stay here, I won't. I… I don't belong here anymore. It will kill me if I have to stay here."
"Surely it is better that you stay here, with your friends, all the people who care about you?" Dumbledore said faintly.
"I'm not… I can't be who I was. They don't know me. I can't stay here, I'd rather die. I'm going to leave. The only question is if you are going to help me or not." He paused before continuing. "You owe me", he stated, his hollow stare boring into Albus' eyes unrelentingly.
"And Voldemort?" Albus breathed out.
"I could care less about Voldemort. If there is anything I have learned it is that everything is about choices. I choose to disregard that prophecy; I want nothing to do with it. I want to live, I cannot do that here. Don't you think you owe me that at least, to give me a choice, a chance?"
The room was quiet for almost a full minute before Albus answered him. "I owe you everything."
Harry Potter vanished that same day. To the rest of the wizarding community he died. From what people were told by Dumbledore (and no one doubted the word of Dumbledore), there had been an attack on Hogwarts by Death eaters.
They had gotten into Hogwarts at night when Albus was away, broken into the quarters Harry shared with Snape and taken them of guard, sleeping. After murdering them they had burned the rooms down, there weren't much of the bodies left to bury.
The wizarding community was devastated. But people went on, they had to.
Voldemort knew obviously that he had not ordered an attack on Hogwarts, yet. He assumed this was a ploy by Dumbledore to hide Harry Potter along with Severus Snape away until they were needed in the war.
The dark lord sent people to find information on the vanished war heroes' whereabouts but they always came back empty handed, he never found any trace of them. It was as if they had truly disappeared from the face of the earth.
Albus Dumbledore would come to lead the light in its many clashes with Voldemort for years to come, but everyone knew that the day of that unfortunate attack on Hogwarts in his absence, was the day that the twinkle in Dumbledore's eyes died out forever, along with the-boy-who-didn't-live in the end and a potions master no one would even remember at all.
But though many grieved the Harry Potter they'd known, or if they never knew him personally what he had symbolized to them, most of them did move on. Some of them became losses in the long, never-ending war, while some of them lived long lives, before they too followed the rest, finally coming to the same realization Harry had been faced with many years before them.
No one ever heard from Harry Potter again. But on another location entirely, far away from Britain, a man nobody knew named Adam Grey showed up a few months after the savior of the Wizarding world's untimely demise.
This man travelled the world aimlessly, for years. He saw many of the world's wonders, but it seemed he never found what he sought.
He knew many cultures and made friends in every country he visited. He never stayed long before moving on though, and he was a mystery to all. Eventually he did settle down, in a small village in South America, by the Amazon River.
He married a woman of Indian heritage and they lived deep inside the tropical forest, in peace, and those who knew them claimed that Adam, the mysterious wanderer of the world, finally seemed content.
She died eventually, at an old age, after a short time of sickness. Adam disappeared again after that. This time, no one ever saw him again.
No one knew where Adam Grey came from, nor what happened to him. And that was the way he wanted it, the destiny he chose.
And as the people who had thought they knew Harry Potter were slowly replaced by the next generation, the memory of him faded, and all that was left was the myth of two very unfortunate people.