A dozen or more sudden loud cracks broke the silence of the old manor as Voldemort's Death Eaters obeyed his summons. When all were arrayed in their expected places, the Dark Lord revealed his plans and assigned to each their tasks.

"It is time we brought the magical creatures of the world to our side. The part humans and the creatures of darkness—Wizarding kind has not treated them well; they will ally themselves with us."

A chorus of "Yes, my Lord" and "Brilliant, my Lord," followed this pronouncement.

"You will go in pairs. If one should fall, I want the other to return and bring me word."
Less enthusiasm was shown as the Dark Lord named individuals to seek out the various tribes of Dark creatures and treat with them.

"Mulciber and Avery, you are to go to the Hags."

"Yes, my Lord," the two replied gratefully. There were far worse assignments coming.

"Travers and Nott, you will meet with Fenrir Greyback. If he agrees, then all the werewolves will follow."

Travers and Nott shuddered and bowed, accepting wordlessly. The others breathed a great sigh at escaping this particular job.

"McNair and Crabbe, I want you to go to the Giants. Move quickly and bring gifts. I believe Dumbledore will attempt to treat with them as well. Be certain you win. Am I understood?"

"Yes, my Lord," Crabbe answered.

"Perfectly," said McNair.

"Malfoy and Snape." The two men stood a bit straighter and looked up at the Dark Lord, waiting silently. "You will go to the Unseelie Court and treat with the Faerie Queen. Go now, it is nearly Midsummer. If you miss your chance, you won't be able to get through until Halloween when Severus would be missed at Hogwarts.

"Yes, my Lord," Lucius and Severus both answered and prepared to follow their orders immediately upon being dismissed.

There were several more assignments. Lord Voldemort himself took the task of meeting with the Dementors, for which his followers were all deeply grateful.

Lucius and Severus were not able to report success at Midsummer. The Queen allowed their visit and directed her court to entertain them with food and dancing, but she was not willing to speak of war during the Midsummer feast. She directed them to return at Samhain, a more proper season for such discussion. Severus bowed and told her Lucius must represent them both, as he would have duties he could not escape. She nodded and agreed that Lucius would be expected then. The Queen invited them to spend the night before returning, but mindful of the old tales, they bowed respectfully and departed as swiftly as courtesy allowed.

Two weeks after All Souls, Lucius finally returned to the Dark Lord to report his successful meeting with the Queen. Lucius went to his master as quickly as possible to defer his wrath, not waiting for the next convocation, and spoke to him alone.

"Are you not fond enough of me to tear yourself away promptly, Lucius? Do not think you can hide from me in Faerie," was Voldemort's testy welcome.

"My Lord!" I only stayed the night, as the Queen bade me. I could not be so rude as to refuse and risk her denying your request."

Voldemort stared into Lucius's panicked blue eyes and saw the truth of his words.

"Ah, yes. Time runs differently there; I had forgotten. You are forgiven your tardiness, Lucius. Tell me, what does she offer, and what is her price?"

"She offers five companies of elven archers, my Lord, for one battle, whenever you should call for them. She gave me this ring to bring to you." Lucius knelt before the Dark Lord and held out a small silver ring with a green stone. "Place it on your finger to indicate you accept her offer, and turn it thrice about when you wish to summon her aid."

Voldemort took the ring and admired it. "Very good, Lucius. And, the price?"

"She ... she wants Severus, my Lord."

"You did not agree, did you? I need him where he is. He is valuable as my spy, and I am pleased that he has kept his place all these years waiting for my return."

Lucius cowered and hastened to explain, "I told her that you would not agree, my Lord. She said that she would not claim her price until you summoned her aid. When you come to that pass, she said, all will be disclosed and you should have no further need of your spy. I promised only that I would bring you the ring and her words. If you place the ring on your finger, she will be aware of it and the bargain will be sealed."

Lucius dared to look up briefly to gauge his master's reaction. The snarl had eased; he breathed again.

"Excellent work, Lucius. Better than I had expected. You have pleased me," Voldemort told his kneeling minion, and he placed the ring on his littlest finger.

The day the Dark Lord had been working towards for the last two years was fast approaching, but before he was quite ready, he became aware of something terrible, and cold dread seized him. He raced about Wizarding Britain seeking his Horcruxes to verify their safety. In each place, he found he was too late. Bringing Nagini to him, he knew he could not wait; it was time to go to Hogwarts, the battle must begin.

Severus flew to meet him on the way and reported that Potter was at Hogwarts, or so he believed. There was no time to lose. Voldemort summoned all his Death Eaters and bade them to bring the armies of all the creatures they had promised him. Severus bowed and watched the Dark Lord twist a small ring about his finger as Severusasked what were his orders.

Outside the Shrieking Shack, the battle raged. Voldemort had the edge in number of forces, and many of the defenders were mere children, but without mastery of the Elder Wand, he still feared defeat. It was ... regrettable, but there was only one thing to do.

As Severus lay dying, Voldemort retrieved his snake. There was no time to lose waiting for the inevitable. Voldemort hurried down the passageway. By the time he reached Potter, Severus would be dead and full mastery of the wand would be his.

Harry emerged from his cloak and knelt by Severus Snape's side, taking his professor's last lesson for him into Hermione's glass phials. When he had them safe, the three also left.

As the footsteps of the children disappeared in the distance down the tunnel, the air inside the shack shimmered and the Queen appeared with two of her attendants. The Queen knelt at Severus's side, heedless of the blood, which did not stain her clothes. She held his hand and touched his face, gazing into his sightless eyes.

"He still lives, but not for much longer." She stood. "Do what you can for him, quickly, or it will be too late," she told the first attendant who immediately knelt in her place. To the other she said, "Summon back my troops; Riddle forfeited my aid when he tried to renege on my price. Go." The elf bowed and vanished.

Meanwhile, the first elf tipped a few drops of liquid from a tiny flask onto Severus's neck, and a few more between his lips. The elf then lay both hands on Severus's chest and, eyes closed, began to sing softly in the elven tongue. There was a bluish glow, then Severus began to breathe, very faintly. "He will live, my Queen."

"Good. Bring him back to the Hill. Lay him to rest in my chamber, and see that he is cared for."

Severus opened his eyes to find himself in a stone chamber that looked as if it were part of a natural cave, but with carpet and hangings and vases of flowers and bowls of fruit. All in all, it had the effect of a forest clearing at the richest height of summer.

This is nice. Beautiful, even. I can't possibly be dead, then, Severus thought to himself and tried to sit up. He was still very weak and didn't quite make it, but he did attract the attention of a young girl. Elf, he corrected himself, catching sight of her ears.

"Thou art awake. I must tell the Queen directly. Is there anything else thou wishest before I go?"

Severus thought a minute. He was neither in pain, nor hungry. He didn't even need to use the loo. "Where am I?"

"Thou art in the bedchamber of my Lady, the Queen of Faeries, Severus," she told him with a smile. Ah, well then, I suppose that means they mean me no harm. Yet...

"Which Queen, if I may ask. I understand there is more than one Court."

"Ah, they said you were wise. Mortals call our folk the Unseelie Court," she told him.

Oh. Shit.

By the time the Queen came to him, Severus was feeling strong enough to sit up. She sat on the edge of the bed and took his hand possessively, pushing his hair back from his face with the other hand and gazing at him intently.

"Thank you for saving me, my Lady," Severus said, then licked his lips, unsure if he was allowed to ask questions.

"You are welcome, although you should realize I am serving my own interests."

"How so, madam?"

"Did you not know my price to your Lord for my aid?"

Severus felt a sinking feeling in his stomach. "He did not tell me."

It was no great surprise to him when she answered, "It was you. I realize this might anger you, but you should consider yourself fortunate. I was infuriated that Riddle tried to renege on our deal. If he wanted you dead, then I want you to live. I hope it wrecked his plan. "

Severus bowed his head, and his hair swung forward. "He did not correctly understand the circumstances. My death ... had no value to him," he told her softly, his face hidden.

"Pity. Well, never mind that now. You are safe here in Faerie. Nothing shall harm you, and there will be only pleasure. Come," she said, standing and holding her hand to him.

Severus started to stand, but stopped when he realized he was naked under the sheets.

"Are you blushing?" the Queen asked, laughing. "Foolish mortal. Stand and let me admire my prize fully."

Red practically to the navel, Severus submitted to the Queen's imperious tone. He pushed back the blankets and stood before her, naked as the day he as born.

The Queen surveyed him with a wicked gleam in her eye. Despite his embarrassment, or perhaps because of it, Severus felt his cock twitch and reddened even more, staring down at the floor. He felt the Queen's hand slide down his back to curve under his bum and felt her lips at his shoulder.

"Too thin, I think, and I doubt you were ever beautiful, but I like the look of you just the same. Your hair looks practically elven, and your nose reminds me of an old lover, who pleased me greatly. You'll fatten up quickly, and your youth will return to you." Severus looked at her sharply. "Oh yes, mortals age ... differently here. You'll see," she said with a smile.

"Ella," she said sharply, clapping her hands. The young elf who had been there when Severus first woke reappeared. She smiled to see him standing there naked and at half mast, before curtsying to her Queen. "How may I serve?"

"Bring a robe for Severus here, so he can be more comfortable, and shoes as well." She turned to Severus. "I shall show you my domain." The elf, Ella, returned in mere moments with a silver-grey linen robe and low boots of the softest charcoal leather. He looked around, but there were no underthings. Not surprising the elves should be traditionalists, he supposed.

The tour did not take long. Severus learned that they were under the Faerie Hill, deep in the Forbidden Forest. At least, sometimes they were. The Queen explained that they were in the Faerie country, which looked very much like the mortal world, but without the artifacts of mortal hands. There was no Hogsmeade or Hogwarts. There were other hills and other kingdoms.

"If you came to the Faerie Hill from the mortal side, and were somehow able to tunnel straight into it, you would find nothing but dirt and rock, unless you happened to do your digging near one of the sun or fire feasts. Then the worlds are nearer and it is possible to break through. Ah, but you knew that ... you and your pretty friend came to me at Midsummer."

Severus saw the music room and the library, the weaving room where nimble-fingered elves made their cloth so strong and warm, yet so thin and light. Fabric which caught the shadows and bound them round the wearer. He saw the stable where the elf-steeds were kept for whenever the court should wish to ride. Finally, they came to the great hall, and Severus gasped. The ceiling of the cavern was charmed to show the sky, just like at Hogwarts. Severus suspected at least one of the founders had visited here and copied it What drew his gasp, however, was how different it was. Night had fallen, but there was no moon, only stars - but though Severus knew the skies over Hogwarts in every day of every season, these stars were utterly strange to him. He searched for the Dipper, and Polaris in vain. Even the Milky Way, which should have spilled bright and creamy across the ceiling on a moonless night such as this, was no where to be found. He felt sick. He may not be dead, but he might as well be. He had left the mortal world for good. Was there a single soul there who would mourn him? Certainly no one would wonder where his body had gone. No one would look; no one would try to bring him back. He was here forever.

The Queen seemed to sense the direction of his thoughts. "Do not grieve, my pet. You are here with me, and you will know only pleasure from now on." She slipped close, so close he could feel her feather-soft hair against his cheek. She pulled him into her arms and stroked his back when she felt him stiffen. No, he thought. Lily wouldn't want this.

The Queen continued to stroke and kiss him, unmindful of his silent resistance. She pressed herself against his body, and he felt his body's reflex to her nearness. Her perfume was nothing like a human woman would choose to wear. It reminded him of the deepest part of the Forbidden Forest – of dark leaves and bright mushrooms and the tiny white flowers that grow in the shadows where the littlest insects sip from them.

Lily isn't here ... she's dead, and I can't even join her there. Even now, with my task finally done, I won't ever be free... Severus sat back on the bed behind him and looked up at the Queen. She slipped out of her gown and reached for him. Severus touched her skin, her breasts. She slid his robe up above his hips and bent to kiss his stomach and thighs, and finally took his warm cock into her mouth. At the feel of her, he let out a ragged breath and gave himself up to his new fate.

bA/N:/b Written for the 2011 round of Samhain Smut on LJ. Big smooches for Luvsev, who is a talented beta and all around lovely person, and to Rose of the West who puts up with my flailing and wibbling like a trooper.