It's JKR's world, I just play in it.

Here's the final chapter of this folx, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed creating it.


Voldemort was defeated. And against all his fears and hopes, and, in fact, against all reason, Severus Snape survived with little more than a shattered elbow from a poorly executed dodge.

Had he been anything but a potions master, Severus would have been happy to have taken the medicines Madam Pomfrey offered, waited a day or two for the pain to abate as the joint regenerated and then gone about his life with an arm constantly stiff and frequently weak.

Instead, his legendary foul temper increased as he discovered he was unable to demonstrate to his classes the superior control that potions making required at all times.

Oddly, once he accepted that he would need an assistant for some of his teaching and research, he was glad of the distraction selecting one provided. After all, it was better than paying more attention to the trials than absolutely necessary.

They began with the minor Death Eaters first, the soldiers, in the hopes that their testimony would incriminate those above them, saving time as the later trials finally began. And while this was in some cases effective, Severus was still called as a witness at far more of the proceedings than he would have hoped.

He became used to it; it was, after all, just another type of horror, and one less graphic and painful than many he had witnessed. It was hard not to be reminded each time he arrived, face stony, eyes focusing on nothing somewhere in the middle-distance that it so easily could have been him whose fate was being weighed.

He refused to push so grim a thought from his mind though, because it had the benefit of preventing him from thinking about the inevitable, about Lucius.

The headmaster has asked him to join him in his office after dinner. A cup of tea, a matter to be discussed. He knew, by the relentless compassion in Albus' eyes and by the way Minerva couldn't look at him during the meal, that Lucius had been sentenced.

For a change, Albus did not beat around the bush or insist on annoying and knowing pleasantries. Instead, he merely passed the Ministry letter to Severus, who read it quickly before even taking a seat. Lucius had been sentenced to receive the Dementor's Kiss and had requested he attend as his personal witness.

"I'd expected as much," he said, passing the letter back to Albus.

The headmaster nodded thoughtfully. "Minerva will be in attendance as well."

"Why?" Severus asked, too shocked to be alarmed or to say something cutting.

"Considering Lucius' long history with Hogwarts, the institution itself is considered one of his victims, and as such, we've a right to a witness there."

Severus sighed. "I don't need to tell you I hate this, do I Albus?"

"No child, it certainly doesn't make one feel we have escaped the war, no matter his crimes."

"Yes, no matter," Severus replied, starring off again.

"How's the arm?"

"It would be fine if I didn't require the use of it."

"Have you made any progress in acquiring an assistant."

"No. I'm not someone most people would care to work for, and it's difficult to find the appropriate mix of brilliant precision, utter lack of creativity, and complete silence I require."

Albus exchanged a slight smile with the potions master then. "There are a number of former students whose fortunes and obligations have been greatly effected by recent events. There are to my admittedly less expert eye, several reasonable candidates there. Perhaps you'd like to review the list?"

"That seems wise, thank you Albus. If there isn't anything else?"

"No Severus, you may go, I just thought you deserved the news in person. Your owl should arrive tomorrow,"

"Very good then."

"If you need anything, Severus," Albus called after him as he left, knowing the effort was futile, that Severus never really asked anyone for anything, although sometimes he would gaze at things, as if in hopes someone would inquire as to the nature of his interest.

Azkaban. The most claustrophobic place in the entire world. Entering the prison again, after so long was a terrible thing for Severus. He'd spent nearly four months there in his early twenties after his confessions to Albus, as the Ministry pushed paper to allow the Headmaster to be his keeper. It was only much, much later that Albus had revealed what the younger man had already known – that the paperwork kept getting lost, that the process kept getting derailed because they hoped Albus would drop it. A spy was valuable, certainly, but the notion that a Death Eater could reform? It was fatal to the war effort, the by any means necessary philosophy so poorly executed by ministry officials. Slytherins would have done it right, brutally and efficiently, not tried to kill him with lost paperwork. Eventually, Albus had won, and Severus was given his life, such as it was, such as it had become.

With a slight flourish of his robes, Severus took his seat next to Minerva, in the gallery, above the coming spectacle. They glanced at each other, without turning their heads, and then she reached over to cover one of his hands with her own. He smiled weakly at her for a moment, before shrugging the touch off. This was not a time for anything but loss.

Minerva gasped when the prisoner, Severus could no longer think of him as Lucius, was led in. He was surprised himself, but for a different reason. Severus knew what happened to people in Azkaban, and Lucius seemed to have held up shockingly well. A spark of intelligence remained in his eyes, as did a confident set to his jaw, and a deliberate step. It was most incongruous with his obviously deteriorated health, greyed skin and now oily hair. Until that moment, Severus had never seen a Malfoy look anything but beautiful. But he was still Lucius, and that was something at least.

He was seated, with some roughness in a large ornate wooden chair, and he sat on it, arms on the rests as if it were a throne. A brief smile flitted over Severus' face. The guards left the room.

Severus felt the dementor enter, before he saw it, cold at the base of his spine, like the antithesis of sex, a strange feeling, that spread up and through him, like breathing mud. Others in the gallery gasped, and Severus mentally chided them for being so weak.

Lucius, sat up in his chair, back straight, fingers clutching the arm rests, confirming what Severus suspected, he wanted this. He had somehow convinced himself that this was a final depravity he could not resist. It worked though, provided him with enough will to seem a tragic figure, which he was, but not, in a way his ego would ever have let him understand.

The creature glided up to him, snaked one long tremulous white finger under his chin, and Lucius rolled his eyes back and closed. The creature bent then, ever so slowly, and took the man's face in his hands. Lucius snapped his eyes open then, and for a moment they searched the gallery franticly until they fastened on Severus. He smiled then, as much as he could, and then closed his eyes again, as the dementor's mouth met his own.

Severus watched his old lovers body arc into the creature, and the moment seemed to last an eternity, but then the kiss was broken, and the dementor leaned Lucius back against the chair before gliding out.

The blond man no longer held the arm rests. In fact, his arms hung limply at his sides. His head, tilted at an awkward angle, continued to look for something in the gallery, but the eyes did not focus. The man still breathed, but he was also gone.

Severus bolted from his chair.

Outside, air, thank the gods. It had taken forever to get through all the security checks and get out of there. Secretly, he didn't think they were going to let him back out.

It was too awful. Better that they should kill the guilty outright. Severus had always hated the ministry hypocrits. Reflexively he took several large lung fulls of the salt sea air, and slowly, thankfully began to feel as if his body were his own again.

Lucius. Poor, clever, hopeless, beautiful Lucius. He remembered the weekend, not long after Minerva had caught them. Weekend leave, the occassional priveledge of seventh years, and they went home to the Malfoy manner. His father was away. His mother, engaged entirely in her own intrigues. And they had gotten drunk, painfully, stupidly and expensively drunk.

The had both tripped, finding their way up the grand spiral staircase, and lay there, for a long moment tangled in each others arms and kissing, until Lucius finally found his feet.

"Come on, Severus, get up!"

"Must I? This was proving so comfortable."

The blonde boy had tugged on his arm, pleaded, begged and cajoled, until patience was finally lost and he had hissed, "You need to get up before one of the house elves finds us and tells my mother we're sprawled on the stairs too drunk to fuck."

And Severus had sobered instantly. "Is that what we're doing?"

"If you would get your sorry ass upstairs with me, it had rather been my intent. Or would you like to wait until McGonogall can watch us?"

Severus had found his feet then, and the boys found Lucius' bedroom and quickly collapsed on the bed, drifting into unconsciousness before Lucius could find a potion to sober them up, all the while, Severus muttering about the beauty of his silver silk sheets.

Severus awoke, sometime shortly after dawn, to a tongue tracing its way down his spine. Lucius, making good on his promise. When he realized Severus was awake he muttered in his ear, nonsense words, reassurances, amusing patterns in Latin, anything to keep his young lover's fear and perennial tension at bay.

Fingers sliding into him, and Severus remembered fear, not at the pain, but at the notion anything could feel like that, could take a person over, could make them lose words. Everything else he had experienced at that point had merely been, he realized, a simulation of so strange a science.

They didn't find their way out of bed until the afternoon. They had needed naps and the humid isolation of Lucius' room. Severus had needed to be held, especially when he realized that was what he had always needed. Terror at that. Terror worse and more beautiful than Azkaban. If only he and Lucius had been other people, but that had never been within either of their considerable power, and certainly would never be now.

Severus shook his head to clear it, and opened his eyes, to find McGonogall had joined him outside, and was eyeing him with concern.

"Severus?" she inquired softly.

"It's alright, I'm alright." His voice was tight, more fragile than he had expected.

"Let's go home Severus," she said softly, coming to stand beside him.

He swallowed, nodded, and squeezed his eyes shut against the tears that threatened to fall. Severus wished desperately that Lucius had found some other way to tell him he had once been loved.