Other pairings/threesome: Besides the obvious, only canonical ones.
Word count: ~3000
Warning(s): Non-graphic slash (Harry's 17, but really, nothing major happens); violence; bad language; AU. Also, inexcusable lack of Snarry smooches.
SPOILERS/What you are fixing: I'm fixing the final battle: Snape should have died a hero, instead of a traitor. And, while I'm on it, I'll just make sure he doesn't die at all, shall I?
A/N: This thing did NOT want to be written. I deleted a large portion of it at first without noticing, had to re-write the dialogues halfway through and then, the cherry on top of the cake, my pen-drive was de-magnetised. Thank you, Universe! I'm even a bit reluctant in posting this fic; all the drama can only be a sign from above . . . . Anyway, enjoy! ;)
On his way to meet the Order in the Room of Requirement, Harry came to a halt in front of one of the windows, after having caught something in the corner of his eye. The Quidditch pitch was on fire, the skeletons of the stands crumbling as they burned.
It was only a second that he stayed. Ron and Hermione urged him to hurry and went ahead, trusting that Harry would follow. He intended to, except that a hand closed harshly over his shoulder, stopping the movement, and he was spun around violently, to face the gleeful face of Amycus Carrow.
Harry had half expected to be taken to Snape, but he found himself staring into red eyes much sooner than he had wanted to. "Just in time, Potter, like usual."
"Sod off, Riddle."
Voldemort smirked and he nodded to Bellatrix, who grinned maliciously as she Petrified Harry, and Levitated him. They headed towards the Great Hall with an entourage of nine other Death Eaters, all masked. There wasn't a soul in the corridors.
The doors swung open to reveal the students placed in neat rows, as Snape glowered at them. Behind him, Amycus and Alecto were already in place flanking the teachers.
Harry saw Snape blink twice at the intrusion, before his expression went completely blank. "My lord," Snape greeted, bowing lightly. "I wasn't expecting your presence for supper."
Voldemort guffawed, looking around to prompt his followers into sharing the joke. They all chuckled on cue. "I'm afraid my visit is rather more serious than that, Severus. Did you notice the companion I bring?" Snape's eyes flashed in Bellatrix's direction.
"Indeed, I did, my lord. Forgive me if I'm not surprised. The boy's recklessness is not unknown to me." One of the Death Eaters snorted. Snape's expression didn't change, but he shifted his weight, politely waiting for Voldemort to get to the point.
"My dear Severus, I have decided to bestow you a great honour. I have decided to allow you to kill Harry Potter. In front of his followers, so they may witness his fall."
Snape didn't twitch a muscle. McGonagall, however, gasped and tried to move forward, but Amycus caught her by the arms, while Alecto swiftly retrieved her wand, jabbing hers at McGonagall's throat with a vindictive frown. Snape didn't look up as they escorted her out of the room, but Harry bet he could feel McGonagall's stare on him, promising dire pain if she ever got her wand and Snape within reach.
"My lord?" Snape asked. "What about the Prophecy? The boy won't die by my—."
Voldemort hummed thoughtfully. "Are you refusing my gift, Severus?"
Snape froze for a moment, then slowly drew his wand. Harry could taste the betrayal, his heart beating faster with the urge to escape. He had almost believed that everything had been a ruse, just another one of Dumbledore's schemes. So many signs and clues that almost . . . . No, the flash of hatred in Snape's eyes told Harry he had hoped in vain. There really was no one.
But they hadn't lost yet, had they? Most of the Horcruxes had been destroyed and the only left were Nagini, the Diadem and the Cup. Which was about half of them, wasn't it? Voldemort might think he had won, now that he had Harry, but Ron and Hermione were on their way to the Chamber of Secrets – Harry hoped they had had the sense of proceeding – to destroy the Cup, Luna was searching for the Diadem in the Room of Hidden Things and the Dumbledore's Army knew that Nagini had to be taken down before Voldemort. And, if nothing else, Kingsley was probably powerful enough to deal the final blow.
And Harry . . . Harry would see that the Death Eaters were too busy to notice the Order lurking in the shadows and he would make damn sure that Snape didn't see the light of a new day for betraying everything he had once stood for!
"Ooohh, my lord, Potter's angry," Bellatrix cooed, waving her wand up and down, making Harry move likewise. It was humiliating.
Snape's gaze went to Harry's. Harry saw no remorse, nothing whatsoever that gave away that he wasn't as vile as the rest of them.
Voldemort turned with a pleased leer. "My, my, Severus, the boy trusted you to the very end, didn't he? What a nice job you did. Do you want to duel him, or shall I keep him in binds while you take your revenge?"
Snape seemed to break out of his reverie. "My revenge, my lord? I think my revenge will be breaking the boy further while he attempts to duel me. Maybe he'll even cry."
The Death Eaters sniggered. A few of the younger students were crying, stifling their sobs, while the older ones tried to calm them down before Voldemort noticed. Except that he had noticed, and he was relishing in it, the twisted fuck. And a select few, Harry noticed with a rush of something he could not name, looked to Snape for guidance.
Maybe Harry wanted to cry, yes, but it was in powerless rage.
Suddenly, the binds around his body vanished and he hit the floor with a painful thud.
Bellatrix threw Harry's wand at his feet at Voldemort's sign, while he gestured towards it with a magnanimous wave. "There you go, Harry Potter. Your wand. Use it wisely." Another chorus of titters. Harry glowered. He didn't particularly want to turn his back on any of them, but found himself with no choice but to bend low to pick up his wand.
"Expelliarmus!" Harry had barely got up when Snape's shout echoed in the Great Hall, and Harry's wand was wrenched from his hand. Snape caught it midair with a graceful stretch. The Death Eaters cheered.
Harry snarled, "Bastard!" his mind adding up a few well deserved insults about Snape's unfairness, before he took notice of his circumstances. Of course Snape was unfair; Harry had only six years of magical education to account for it.
Snape aimed his wand at Harry's chest. "Avada—." Harry closed his eyes briefly against the sting in them. "Ke—." That was when Harry saw Bellatrix's surprised expression and noticed the pleased glint in Voldemort's eyes. And he knew, he knew, that Voldemort was just about to call his own bluff.
As for Snape, he was too far away. He couldn't tell the subtle nuances in the others' expressions, so he never knew that he could have the next syllable and still remain Voldemort's most trusted follower.
Instead, he flicked his wand sideways, towards Voldemort, and shouted, "—davra!"
Voldemort didn't react for a second, before dodging the curse with a twirl around himself, and snarled, "Traitor! Crucio!"
Harry exhaled deeply as stunning, sweeping relief flooded him, and he ran to Snape's side. Without taking his eyes from his enemies, Snape pushed Harry behind himself and shielded him with his body. "Stay behind me. And take your wand, it's in my pocket."
Voldemort was beyond livid. "You dare to betray me, you half-blood runt?"
"Surely you see the duplicity of that statement, my lord," Snape sneered, "as you're a half-blood runt yourself." He smirked.
Death Eaters and students alike gasped, before the latter broke into cheers, while Voldemort roared in outrage.
Snape's eyes crinkled with mirth, but then his expression turned vicious as his upper body dove forward. "Reducto! Confringo! Excorio!" That last one hit one of the Lestrange brothers straight in the chest and Harry could see the skin being torn from his neck, much to Lestrange's screaming horror. Snape graced Harry with a small smile and Harry found himself mesmerized by the fact that Snape was on Harry's side.
"What did Potter offer you for this betrayal, Snape?" Voldemort spat suddenly.
Snape's face twisted with disgust. "It's what he doesn't ask for that matters, my lord." If Harry hadn't forgiven Snape yet, that would have done it. "Potter!"
Harry startled. "What?"
"What do you think, you blithering fool?" Snape demanded in a low pitch. "Here I am, risking my—." He huffed, blocking a few more hexes with talented ease. "There isn't time for this. Listen, there's one more Horcrux—."
Suddenly, he grabbed Harry by the robes and pulled him briskly against his side, just as a Killing Curse soared by the place where Harry's head had been a moment ago, leaving Harry to blink in shock. Snape conjured a wall of stone to stand in front of them.
"Don't cast the Killing Curse!" Voldemort screeched from the other side. "They're mine!"
Harry turned to Snape, taking the opportunity to get his wand back. "What do you mean, there's one more?"
Snape's expression was grim. "One Horcrux was made the night your parents died, but not intended." Seeing as Harry still didn't understand, Snape added impatiently. "You are that Horcrux, Potter." He caught Harry by the shoulders and pulled him closer, so he could look into Harry's eyes as he said, "You must die, but you must not fight. Do not give him the—."
With a loud bang, the wall of stone creaked and exploded. Harry turned to cover his head, but Snape drew his wand and casted, "Protego!"
Harry wasn't sure about what happened next.
He saw Bellatrix cast the Cutting Curse and he knew Snape had seen it, too, but instead of defending himself, Snape let the curse hit him, let go of his wand and fell to his knees. Stunned, Harry wasn't able to stop it when Nagini slithered through the room like a lightening and lodged her teeth on Snape's throat.
Harry shouted in denial, Voldemort crowed in delight and Snape gurgled painfully, but did not waver as he produced a sharp dagger from his robes and beheaded the snake when she came down for the second bite.
Voldemort's rage reached a blazing level. Nagini's head hadn't fallen yet, when Snape was lift in the air and thrust into the wall where everyone could see him. "You've just died for nothing, Snape," he informed Snape with a spiteful sneer. "Was it worth it? Was that mudblood's child worth it?"
Snape's eyes blazed, before he gasped as if an invisible hand had just crushed him. "It was worth far more," he wheezed with a fierce glare, "than following a delusional sadist with . . . mommy issues."
It seemed Snape had realised he had nothing left to lose.
Voldemort's face tightened, before he hissed, "Crucio! Let's see how you feel after I'm through with you!"
Several things happened then. The Order burst inside, but froze seeing Bellatrix's wand aimed at Harry and Snape on the wall. The Death Eaters were quick to block their advance, and engaged in duel. But all of them fell silent when Snape began to croak out his answer, "You'll have to . . . ask me when . . . I see you in Hell."
Voldemort tsk-ed. "Cliché, Snape, very cliché. Crucio!"
"Stop it, Riddle!" Harry cried. He could see the astonished faces of those who had just arrived, Ron and Hermione among them, and that was when he got it. Snape had given him a way to sacrifice himself. "Stop it. It's me you want." Snape rolled his eyes at Harry's dramatics, but nodded encouragingly. "I'll give myself up, if you let them go."
Triumph flashed in Voldemort's eyes, before he schooled his expression into a contemplative frown. "You think highly of yourself, do you not, Harry Potter? I shall have to consider it."
Harry attempted a nonchalant shrug. "All right. Go on, then."
Voldemort, if anything, looked sadistically amused when a frightened murmur went through the crowd. He was so sure he had won. "I suppose all this death is indeed a great waste. Very well. You die and I won't kill any of these people."
"Harry! No!" shouted Hermione, but Harry paid her no mind. He turned to Snape, instead. He was bleeding profusely, but had both his eyes open and trained on Harry. "For what's worth, sir, I'm sorry. And thank you. We'll see each other in a bit, I suppose, but anyway: I wouldn't say it was a pleasure to know you these past few years," he smiled ruefully, "but today certainly changed that."
Snape choked on his reply. "The pleasure was . . . mine, Potter. Although I doubt we," he gurgled painfully, "we'll go to the . . . same place."
That was when Voldemort lost his patience. "Avada Kedavra!"
"No, I'm pretty sure we will," Harry said, and the world faded to black.
Harry woke up to find the Great Hall turned into a battlefield. The students had been rescued and the Order was fighting a new wave of Death Eaters. Everyone seemed energised with the desire to end this once and for good.
That was, until Voldemort got up and Harry didn't.
After that, things happened in quick succession. One moment Narcissa was lying to protect her son and, in the next, Harry was getting up up, among cries of triumph and shock, and finally, goddammit finally, ended Voldemort using the Elder Wand's allegiance and a well-placed Expelliarmus.
Afterwards, Harry left the job of dealing with Voldemort's corpse, and the last of the stray Death Eaters to teachers and the surviving members of the Order. He also thought that there were enough people helping treating the injured and collecting the dead. Unlike them, there was someone that needed, and deserved, Harry's undivided attention, even if he was no longer alive to appreciate it.
Harry knelt beside Snape's slumped form and pulled his head to rest on Harry's lap. Snape had stopped bleeding, although there wasn't that much blood on the floor. Maybe there was something about Nagini's poison . . . .
Then Snape gasped and his eyes snapped open, going wide with panic, his hands scratching at his throat urgently. Harry nearly fainted.
But he was quick to press his hands to the side of Snape's neck, as if to soothe the pain. "Easy, Professor. I'll get you some help." He looked around. Some Mediwitches were arriving via Floo to treat the injured. He spotted Madam Pomfrey among them, but before he could get her, Snape's hand wind up in Harry's robe and pulled him down.
"No. Stay," he rasped, "Granger . . . ."
Hermione pressed her lips tightly and gave Harry a look that demanded compensation sometime later, before shaking her head and heading towards Madam Pomfrey. "Bossy," Harry heard her mutter, "even after six bloody years . . . ."
Harry turned towards Snape again, their hands still entwined over Snape's neck, and smiled reassuringly. Snape closed his eyes wearily, then opened them to stare at Harry.
"You moved him?" Harry startled at Madam Pomfrey's screech.
"No, I—I thought he was dead."
"Poppy," Snape said, and she must have heard something in his tone, because she nodded firmly and went to worry about his injuries.
"You took some antivenin, didn't you, you cunning boy? Though your Healing Charm still has vast of chance for improvement, though."
Harry almost protested at that, but then he saw that Pomfrey were brimming with tears and she was bitting her lip as if to prevent herself from crying, so he reached out and patted her gloved hand instead. She sniffled. When Harry looked down again, Snape was looking at him oddly. Harry shrugged. "What?"
"Alive?" Snape rasped questioningly and Harry nodded, his throat suddenly clogged by too many things to specify any, and Snape close his eyes with a pained expression, before he relaxed, his breath evening out. "Sod it," he croaked out, "meddling bastard . . . lucky brat."
Harry laughed breathlessly, relieved even though he didn't know why. "Yes, I am, aren't I? And so are you."
Snape opened one single eye. "Not lucky. Antivenin." Harry laughed again and simply sat there, holding Snape's hands, while Madam Pomfrey finished the emergency procedures.
Harry, Ron and Hermione entered the Great Hall for lunch.
Harry's eyes immediately sought out the Headmaster, and sure enough, there was Snape; sitting at the High Table, his plate pushed forward since he was already finished, but was waiting until the students looked properly fed. Harry smiled at him. After a moment, Snape's lips twitched upwards and he inclined his head slightly in recognition.
As usual, the exchange left Harry felling a bit breathless.
There was just something unyielding about Snape, especially noticeable when he sat in that spot, that made his small gestures of appreciation much more rewarding. It was just like the times when Harry erased the haunted look in his eyes by saying something particularly dense, thus replacing it with wry amusement. Harry thought he might just make his mission out of being dense if that was the result.
"Hmm, I can't wait for Quidditch this afternoon," Ron said around a mouthful of mashed potatoes and brocoli. "I mean, even if Snape's being anal about letting the eighth-years play, at least he lets us coach the kids."
"You ought to be more worried about your NEWTs," Hermione said, but it was an automatic response by then, for all the times she'd said it to them over the years. "That's why we have these study periods."
Harry and Ron exchanged a smile over her head. "Yes, of course I am, Hermione," Ron said blithely, which earned him a suspicious look that quickly vanished when he kissed her cheek. "Now, how about a walk through the grounds?" Hermione flushed and her gaze slid guiltily towards Harry.
Harry was quick to hold up his hands. "Hey, don't mind me. I'm having tea with the Headmaster in a few. You can just go ahead."
Ron frowned and Hermione got that calculating look that always worried Harry. "That's the third time this week, Harry," she pointed out.
"Yeah, mate, and it's Wednesday."
Harry shrugged and tried to smother his grin. "So what? Snape said I could come up anytime I wanted." He noticed Snape leaving through the side door. "And, on that note, I'm going. Enjoy your afternoon."
He would have left it at that, but Hermione caught his arm. "Are you sure he knows—?"
Harry didn't bother trying to hide his smile then, and saw Hermione blink in surprise. "He knows," he assured her softly. "See you later."
Just before he left, he heard Ron say casually, "You know, Hermione, I'm not really as stupid as you two think, but, just this once, I'm going to pretend that I am. For my sanity's sake."
No one was really surprised when Harry Potter took residence at Hogwarts when he finished his Seventh Year, even after enrolling in the Auror program. And, if Headmaster Severus Snape was seen in the Ministry more often than it was to be expected, well, that was nobody's business.