AN: I do not own any of these characters or themes or details, etc.

This story will tell the lust/love/loyalty story of Severus and Minerva backwards. This is thus the final scene in that story.


"You know I hate when you call me that Severus."

Her back was still to him, ramrod straight and stiff. He could practically see the tension rolling off her in waves. As much as she professed to hate the nickname, usually she would give in to him when he used it.

"Minerva we've been through this, you know what I have to do," his fists clenched uselessly at his sides. He wasn't even sure he would bring his wand to this final meeting, knowing it wouldn't be much use. Still, he would feel naked without his wand. And he liked to think his true birth, when his life really began was when he was given his wand. He would want his life to end only with his losing it.

"I don't see why you should have to," she sniffed, straightening her ramrod posture even further. Her arms were crossed around her chest, seemingly in defiance, but really her fingers gripped her arms tightly to keep herself from shaking, to keep herself as always in control.

"It's all Sirius' fault! You should be blaming him," Snape said, wanting it to sound at least partially like a joke, although as always his voice couldn't help but be bitter when speaking of his youth's enemy.

"Sirius is dead," her voice rang with the finality of that death as she whirled to face him, "And don't tell me who I should be blaming. We all have to make choices Severus, between what is right and what is easy. And you have never chosen the easy path. And so I am now asking you to choose what is easy and run before it's too late."

Snape shook his head and sat down in McGonagall's armchair heavily.

"You think you can run from the Dark Lord?" His voice was bitingly sarcastic and Minerva blushed at her own foolishness.

She shrugged, "Excuse me for not wanting to watch you be squashed like a bug under his foot. At least have the decency after all these years to die somewhere where I don't have to watch."

Snape snickered and ran a hand through his long greasy hair. Minerva rolled her eyes and crossed the room to him. She re-crossed her arms over her chest and stared at him expectantly.

"But won't you want to weep over my dead body," he suggested mockingly.

"I do not weep," Minerva sneered, "I sniffle."

This time Snape laughed outright and jumped out of the chair and wrapped his arms around his favorite Transfiguration professor. She resisted his embrace for a moment and then gratefully wrapped her arms around him. This past year he had lost weight and he was thinner than ever, and he now reminded her of the gangly young man who had first started work at Hogwarts sixteen years earlier. The man she had pitied, become friends with, begun an affair with, and eventually fallen in love with.

"I'm going to miss you, Minerva," he whispered into her ear. She felt tears prick at the corner of her eyes and her throat swelling so much she could hardly stand the pain. She nodded and pressed her lips to his neck.

"I never thought it would come to this," she choked out, trying to keep the tears inside.

"I did," he replied simply, stroking her back.

She pulled back and held his face in her hands.

"As awful as it is, part of me is hoping Potter will fail just so I'll get to keep you here."

"Unfortunately, despite his serious lack of talent or any semblance of a work-ethic, Potter usually manages quite well."

"I guess this is it then," she agreed, and pressed her lips to his. The past two years she had felt uncomfortable with her intimacies with Snape in a way she hadn't felt before. Her injury during Umbridge's reign of terror had aged her more than she would have liked to admit, and in many ways she now felt and looked like an old woman. She had always been fifteen years his senior, but now she looked it. She had been surprised that he had come to her as soon as he could after the attack, even as he himself was in grave danger. She was further surprised that he still could find her beautiful even now with her body as it was. Then again, Severus Snape had always been a man to surprise a great many people.

She ran her hands up his arms and pushed his robes off his shoulders and then began unbuttoning his shirt. He stilled her hands and looked down into her eyes.

"We don't have time for that," he murmured apologetically. He knew she couldn't say the words she wanted, and now he wasn't allowing her to say them with her actions either.

She nodded briskly and stepped away from him. He refastened the three buttons she had gotten undone before he stopped her, and straightened his robes.

"All right then. Be a good boy. Run off to You-Know-Who," she commanded with a dismissive wave of her hand.

"Minerva," he said with some emotion she couldn't place. It would have sounded like desperation in someone else's voice, but in Snape's nasal tones it was hard to identify.

She smiled as best she could, feeling the knot in her throat tightening with every second. He had to leave, and soon, before she completely fell apart.

"Go. Make me proud."

He nodded and turned. She would replay that moment in which he walked out of her office many times in years to come. At times she would regret that she never said 'I love you', and at times she would be grateful for it. At times she would hate herself for not going with him somehow, either as a cat, or patronus, or some invisibility spell she would have hoped Voldemort wouldn't have uncloaked. At other times she would be glad she didn't go watch him die. She would wish she could have given him a proper burial and everyone would have venerated him as a hero. And she would alternately be glad that his grave remained unmarked, a sanctuary for her alone, and thus his presence still lingered without all the usual artificial trappings of death. But always her heart would break when she remembered how he had walked away and hadn't looked back.