Tears of an Angel

The song "Tears of an Angel" by RyanDan deserves a mention in this story. Although this is not a song-fic, I have some of the lyrics at the start and middle because I think they suit Albus Dumbledore in this fic so well. It's a beautiful song, and it always brings tears to my eyes. You need to listen to it, to enjoy this story more, methinks...

Albus Dumbledore is contemplating his young friend at two points across his final year as Headmaster of Hogwarts School. Hopefully a tear jerker!

Kati, you inspired me for this one.

Cover my eyes
Cover my ears
Tell me these words are a lie.
It can't be true,
That I'm losing you,
The sun cannot fall from the sky
Can you hear Heaven cry,
The tears of an angel?

He looked so peaceful, asleep. Collapsed in the arm chair, he has spoken for only a few moments before his eyes had started to close. Minutes later, and Sleep had claimed him fully. It had been a long day, after all. The seemingly every-present stress had fallen from his features, leaving them smooth and making him so much younger.

So much more vulnerable.

Albus Dumbledore found himself, more often now, being forced to admit the harsh reality. He had tried to convince himself otherwise, seeing the wisdom and intelligence and past...instead of the actual truth.

He was nothing more than a child.

A child who was old before his time.

For the first time, Albus could see the end. For the first time, he realised that no matter how hard he prayed, Severus Snape would never have the happy ending he deserved so much.

All his life peace had evaded him. All his life he had fought.

This year would be the hardest battle.

He had thrown himself in, as always. Severus always stepped in feet first, willing to fight to the end for the Light, even though the Light had done so little for him. He was willing to fight until the end for his mentor. He was willing to drown, if it meant Albus could live a little longer.

How had he ended up with someone so brave? What had he done to deserve such an individual?

But making an Unbreakable Vow...yes Severus had been brave in the past. But...this was a new level. How could he sacrifice himself in such a way? How could be put himself on the line? His life...must mean so little to him.

Severus Snape was the only man capable of breaking Albu's heart, rebuilding it, and then shattering the glass all over again.

When he looked at Severus Snape, he realised that he was losing him. Day by day, a little piece of his soul was being claimed by the darkness. How would he cope when Albus was dead? A selfish thought, he knew. But still.

Watching Severus disappear hurt him. Of course, it was necessary. In front of Voldemort and the Death-Eaters, he could only be Snape. But when he returned to Hogwarts, his persona no longer changed. Once upon a time, there had been a definite lifting to his shoulders when he faced his older mentor. But now...had hopelessness corrupted him so much that the boy he loved so much was gone?

The boy who had given so much to keep him safe; spent hours working on a potion to cure his hand, knowing it was pointless, but trying anyway.

The boy who had made an Unbreakable Vow to fulfil Draco Malfoy's mission, without knowing what it was...but still willing to risk his life, to sell his life to someone else, just to try and help.

He looked again at the sleeping figure. Severus Snape was no longer a boy. By the end of this school year, he would be a criminal, hunted for his blood. He would be a murderer.

For Albus Dumbledore knew what the mission would be. And Dumbledore knew that he would be the one to order him, to command him...to ask him.

He reached out to touch a pale cheek, careful not to wake him. He didn't want Severus to see him like this. Soon he would have to ask. He would have to ask Severus to kill him. He stroked his fingers across soft skin, "I'm going to lose you..."

The hard truth drove a blade into his heart. For he was going to lose him.

Inside, his heart wept for the damage he was about to cause to his angel.

He let his hand fall from Severus' cheek, and he turned away, unwilling to let his prodigy awake and see his eyes swimming with tears.

He knew that his tears would not be the last to fall....

So hold on
Be strong...
Everyday on we'll go
I'm here
Don't you fear
Little one, don't let go
Tears of an angel.

There he was, in the doorway. They had argued, again, and yet, here he was. He was about to apologise. He took a step into the room.

Albus stood, letting Severus walk past him, and then closing the door so they were alone. Severus did not sit. He stood by the desk.

He was shaking. Trembling violently. His breathing was erratic. Dumbledore moved back towards him. "Severus?"

The younger man turned to face him. His face was so white, the black lines under his eyes the only colour. His teeth were driving into his bottom lip.

Albus caught him as his knees gave way and a sob forced itself from between his lips. "I can't!" A strangled cry torn from somewhere deep in Severus' soul; it tore a wound so deep in Albus' heart.

"Severus..." He pulled him tighter into his embrace, wrapping his arms around the tormented wizard. "Don't do this..."

Severus hated crying; Albus knew that. But right now, it seemed to be the only thing he could do. The tears choked his throat and stopped him speaking—and in the end he just rested his head against Dumbledore's soft blue robe, body convulsing violently as the sobs eased into silent weeping.

Dumbledore simply cradled the distraught Severus close, rocking slightly to sooth, running a hand up and down his arm, waiting for his friend to find some sense of calm.

Finally Severus looked up, "I can't..." He whispered. His black eyes met Dumbledore's blue, "Please. Don't make me."

How he hated himself for doing this to Severus. How he hated bringing this strong and noble man to his knees. "It is the only way."

Snape shook his head, tears running from his eyes again, "I won't do it! I won't kill you."

Dumbledore pulled him close again, unable to stand the terrible pain in his eyes. "Please, Severus, don't put yourself through this. It will be easy. It's a favour. I am close to death anyway, you know that..."

"Stop!" Severus half shouted, "I won't do it."

"Please, child, you are hurting the both of us." His words were soft, "Don't give up on the Light. This is the only way..."

Severus collapsed against Dumbledore once again, his hands clutching at his robes, "I can't live without you."

"You have to. You have to live on. Don't let go, my boy." He let his voice fall to a murmur, brushing against Snape's ear, "Don't cry, Severus. I cannot chase the fears away this time. But please. I cannot stand you crying." He let his voice tremble, "Not for me."

Severus drew away, the silent water streaking his wet cheeks. "I'm sorry..."

"No. Don't apologise. You have nothing to apologise for. Don't be scared. You have to stay strong." He wiped the tears away, "I am so proud of you, Severus Snape. But I'm here now, don't you fear." He hugged the younger man fiercely, "Not long now, Severus, I promise." He pressed a kiss to Snape's forehead, "I promise that you will find peace..."

He could still feel the tears of his angel wetting his robes...as his own leaked down his cheeks. How much destruction this would cause.

The destruction of someone who had been so valuable...

His tears were quicker now, as he realised that while Severus Snape would be deemed a murdered, he was committing a much worse crime.

And yet, he knew his tears would not be the last to fall...

Don't let go.

His face was tear free. He was in front of an audience.

Dumbledore felt the pride. Hold on, be strong, don't let go, little one... He let his words touch Severus' mind one final time. Shed no more tears for me, angel.

Severus raised his head. "Avada Kedavra."

How he hoped, as the curse struck, that Severus would find the strength to carry on.

Don't let go...

I feel very raw after writing this. I was having a rough afternoon and needed a hug...but had no one to hug...so had someone hug Snape instead! Reviews would make me feel so much better thought *winks*