In Search of Peace
Disclaimer: Harry Potter and Severus Snape belong to JKR.
He walked beneath the twinkling stars, beneath a moonless sky. No more than a shadow himself, he walked alone with only the yellow glow of light from the castle's windows behind him.
It would be so easy to run. To leave before the next few hours marched into the history books. He had a place to go, far away from here, where no one could ever find him. It would be a life alone, but it would be a life.
For some mad reason, the week before, he'd cleaned the small cottage. He had stocked the larder with provisions that would last at least two months. He had even moved those keepsakes that meant something to him to the safe confines of the cottage.
He was not needed anymore. He was far from loved, nor trusted, either. No one knew the truth that beat within his heart; no one knew the secrets he would take to his grave.
His grave? Oh yes. He would surely die in a few hours. He might destroy a few worthless souls before he took his last breath, but down he would surely fall. Counted as one of those worthless creatures. Buried in an unknown grave, or even burned. Forgotten.
The sacrifice he should have made nearly sixteen years ago; the one he had been to terrified to make, even for her, he would make this night. For her son.
No one would ever find his little cottage after his death. Its clean kitchen, filled larder, soft, new bed. It would remain forever empty; never known, never to be found.
Would he find peace? He had wanted peace for so long, but now it seemed not to matter. What was peace worth if one could not live to enjoy it?
- And that is when he heard the weeping. Tears of fear. Sorrow. The plaintive tears of a child. A mere whisper in the breeze, but just enough for him to follow.
He kept to the shadows until he saw a form, seated on the shore of the quiet, black-mirrored surface, of the lake. Not a small form, but certainly not a large one. Knees bent. Head resting on the knobs of bone - he was always too thin. Similarly thin arms hugged the knees tight. There was no one to hold him. No one to comfort him.
The tears were like the most sharpest of knives; carving deep into the mask he always wore. His soul was flayed open to the judgement of the night, and he was made to listen, when never before had he done so.
In the sadness and fright carried by the boy's weeping, the story was told of a little boy trapped by the hopes and dreams of a world he had not even known of until he had been brought here. He was to fulfill a destiny. Yet, what did that matter when he had no real home to call his own, no mother, no father. Oh, he had friends, and perhaps they were true, but even they expected him to one day set their world to rights.
Neither the one who watched, nor the child who wept alone, had ever been given a choice. Pawns. In a much greater game they went where they were moved.
But, was there not always a choice to be made? A voice woven in the soft breeze seemed to answer the shadowed one: Yes.
In that moment he turned away - from the path that had been described for him before he had even known his path had been set. His heart hammered within his chest with fear, excitement, or was it finally Life? A true life of his own making.
Would he die this night? Perhaps, but not on the orders of another. He would choose the path to walk.
In the end it had been far simpler to take the boy's destiny upon his own shoulders. So easy that it had been, he had, for a time, berated himself for not having done so earlier. Others could have done what he did! Adults, not children!
He returned to the edge of the lake - it was still that same night of solitude - and the boy was still there. The tears were gone, but the droop of shoulders, an aged weariness in eyes that should yet still be young, told him the boy had chosen to accept the destiny he never asked for.
From the shadows of the trees, Severus moved silently. Harry Potter looked up at his teacher, for once, not in anger, or fear. He looked into eyes as dark as the night surrounding him, until Severus held something out towards him.
"You are free, Harry." Severus voice held none of the sarcasm, or condemnation. It was simply the voice of someone who understood.
Harry looked down at what Professor Snape held towards him, and saw a wand that glimmered dirtily in the starlight. He knew that wand. Brother to his own. He was afraid, at first, to touch it, but he couldn't let the older wizard hold it forth forever. Screwing up his Gryffindor bravery, he held out his hand and took the wand, then turned his green eyes upon his teacher in question.
"The Dark..." Severus paused, then began again. "Voldemort is dead. Take the wand to the Headmaster. He will be able to discern the truth of it."
So shocked was Harry, that by the time he blurted, "How?" the professor was gone, lost within the shadows. Looking down upon the wand, Harry seemed to know his answer. He could not explain how he knew, but Professor Snape had destroyed Voldemort. He had broken the spell of the Prophecy. To the darkness he whispered, as a smile graced his face, "You're free, too, aren't you, sir?"
A little cottage looks out over the sea. It has a beautiful garden of flowers, and herbs. It has been well tended over the years, just as the cottage has been. The man who lives there is at peace.
A/N: This is a small story that has been sitting in one of my many notebooks. With my not so great eye glasses, I couldn't read it, so my poor husband, who really doesn't like Severus or Harry, read it to me so I could type it here.
For those reading Nobody Cared, I hope to have a new chapter up in about a week.