"Leaving the Light"
"Sev, where are you going? Sev? Sev!" She sped to a fast trot. "Sevvy! Severus Snape, answer me!"
He stopped and slowly turned around. His head tilted down and his hair shrouded his thin face. His eyes snapped, and they bore into her like embers.
"I have to go, Jenni. Do not get in my way!"
The girl caught up to him then, stopping less than a foot from bumping into him. Her emerald eyes burned with a fire of their own when they met his black ones, but her expression softened and cooled as she took in his altered appearance.
Severus had always seemed thin, but now he was nearly weightless. His face was lined and gaunt, the bright piercing eyes sunken into dark holes in his skull. The black hair that she had always envied, once so fine and silky, had been allowed to grow messy and unkempt and had an oily sheen rather than a healthy one.
"Oh, Sev," she breathed, cupping his pale face in her right hand. "What have you done to yourself?"
He turned away from her hand, removing it with his own but not letting it go.
"You shouldn't have followed me," he growled. "It was stupid. You would have been better off staying at Hogwarts, perhaps taking that job."
"Oh, come off it, Sev!" She said, hurt. "I'm not cut out to teach. You would be better. I just…" she paused, searching for words. "Don't you remember?" she finally implored, clasping his hand tightly. "Don't you remember how it was always me you talked to when no one else cared? Don't you remember how you trusted me?"
There was a long silence while Severus closed his eyes and refused to look at her. Jenni absently stroked his hand with her thumb as she mentally battled the inevitable.
"I'm joining the Death Eaters," he murmured at last. "It's the only way. Dumbledore… he told me—I can't say. It's dangerous enough for me to be saying anything out loud, in the open like this. I don't know why I let you convince me to put myself at risk like this!" he snapped, turning his head to glare at her.
"Snape! Severus Snape!" He forcefully released Jenni's hand, as if it were a viper, and stepped backwards away from her. "Don't call me that again. We are not children anymore, and this is not a game, Jennifer Robinson!" He looked wild, breathing harshly and tensed to run.
Jenni stood still, looking down at her hand and fighting the tears that threatened to spill from her eyes.
"I didn't realize you had become so bitter, Severus," she said. "All those years I didn't hear from you…" She looked up then, her expression hardened. "I understand!" she stated, mostly to convince herself. "Go… do what you have to do. But Sev…" she faltered, earning another punishing glare from Snape. "I'm still your friend. You may find it necessary to recall that in the future." She stepped backwards herself.
"I'll have to do things…" he called as the part of him that was slowly dying made a last attempt at being heard and recognized. "Jennifer."
She stopped, and they looked on each other as childhood companions one last time.
"You will remember… won't you?"
She choked up then. She couldn't help herself. She saw quite clearly the spark of kindness and decency that she had nurtured in Severus flicker and sputter away. Why, he would be lucky if even a glow remained after meeting the horrors that awaited him.
"I will if you do," she promised.
Snape turned his back on her then, and in doing so left behind his entire childhood. It was the notorious Professor Snape that Jenni watched walk away into the dark of night.