Author's note: Welcome to the final chapter of 'The deepest desire of our hearts'. I am so sorry it has taken so long to update! But I am really happy with the way this chapter has turned out, so I hope you all enjoy it too! Please remember to review when you're done, you know how much I love hearing from you all!

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'The deepest desire of our hearts'

Chapter 6- Truth

Later that year…

Severus' POV

The sharp, pounding pain in my neck was excruciating. I could feel the sting as Nagini's venom seeped into my blood stream. I felt my still warm blood trickle down my neck and soak my robes. Within a second, I felt unbelievably weak and I knew it would be minutes before my life would end.

This would be a painful death.

Suddenly, Potter was standing in front of me… or at least, I thought it was him. My gaze was incredibly hazy; my focus was moving in and out of clarity. Although I hadn't seen the boy in a year, I could still recognise his stature despite my blurry vision. Nevertheless, I chose not to say anything in case I was wrong. When the boy crouched down in front of me a moment later and I was able to see his face, those bright green eyes told me that I was right.

Potter.

I had hoped he would try to find me and here he was. I needed to give him my memories… I had no need to keep them a secret any longer. I did not want to die knowing that the truth would die with me; someone had to know what I had done and why.

This line of thinking motivated me to summon what little energy I had left to grab on to Potter's sleeve. I used my weight to drag him towards me so I knew he was paying attention. Staring into his eyes, I could see he was terrified by my sudden action, from being apparently weak and helpless, to deceptively strong and determined. Nevertheless, there was also something in his eyes that made me feel he cared, that he was concerned for me; he too knew my life was quickly sliding away.

Unfortunately, I did not have the opportunity to place all of my memories into a vial in preparation for this moment. But I knew they needed to be given to Potter- now.

"Take it," I begged of him in a moan, hoping he would hear how desperate I was for him to be prepared for what he was about to see. Closing my eyes, I forced myself to briefly relive the moments I wished Potter to see. I recalled those beautiful memories with Lily, as well as the necessary evidence that would convince the boy of my innocence, the vital memory Albus wanted Potter to see, and… my experience with the Mirror of Erised.

I ignored the horror in the boy's eyes as he watched frozen, as silvery glistens of watery gas exited my body. I felt them leaving through my wounds for I had no wand with which to extract them. It was only with Miss Granger's assistance that Potter managed to compose himself, and for once I was grateful for her intellect and quick thinking.

When he had them bottled safely in a vial Hermione conjured for him, I felt myself sink deeper into darkness; my job was done… I was free.

But I continued to watch the boy, silently hoping that he would have the chance to use the pensive before it was too late. I searched for his green eyes- eyes I knew so well. Unfortunately, I could barely focus on them; Potter was shaking slightly as he watched me. I briefly pondered what could be going through his mind, and ultimately concluded that somehow, he cared that my life would soon be lost. I never conceived that anyone would miss me, let alone Potter.

I wondered whether Albus had been right about the boy after all; the last time I saw Potter, I had been fleeing Hogwarts having just murdered Dumbledore atop the Astronomy Tower. I had yet to apologise or even explain myself, and was thus surprised the boy hadn't made to torture me further in my death to punish me for all the loved ones he had lost because of me.

But the boy remained still, watching me silently, whether in horror or sorrow, I could not tell. Despite all that I had done to him, I could see the concern in his eyes: sadness that someone else's life was being lost in this battle. I could barely move, but his green eyes reminded me of what happened between us six years ago. Although he would discover the truth when he used the pensive, I felt a desire to speak- to tell him what I had refused anyone to know for so many years.

I used my last ounce of energy to speak; this was my final opportunity to tell him what he had desperately wished to know from Albus all those years ago.

"I see her," I croaked, my throat dry as I struggled to talk- to breathe.

My voice made Potter jump in surprise; apparently he thought I was near dead. But he looked keenly at me and I knew he wanted to understand my words.

"I see her," I repeated again in a trembling voice; speech was making me feel weaker and weaker.

Potter turned to look over his shoulder; Miss Granger and Mr Weasley were at a loss as well. Clearly, he did not understand what I was talking about.

"If you see someone, you can go to them Professor Snape, it's okay," he encouraged me. His response would have amused me; as if I would be going to Heaven, but I was eager to explain myself.

"The mirror," I reminded him in a tone that was barely more than a whisper.

Potter's eyes widened with understanding; I saw a woman in the Mirror of Erised.

He stared at me silently for a moment, perhaps waiting for me to provide a name. But I could not speak of her. Yes, I wanted the boy to know the truth, but I could not find the strength to say her name.

Potter didn't wait for long for my response, and apparently he didn't spend the silence trying to work it out; he was no longer interested in the knowledge. Now, he was studying my injury as if he wanted to help me, and I wondered whether his fleeting desire to save me was so he could discover more about my experience with the Mirror, and not simply know the name of whoever I saw. And knowing Potter's curiosity, he would undoubtedly wish to question me when he found out I loved his mother. But my life was quickly dissipating, so I knew it would be a hopeless for either of us to desire that chance.

I had mere seconds left, but I needed to do one last thing.

I pulled him gently towards me.

"Look… at… me…"

He did.

My final moment on Earth was a blissful one; I died looking into Lily's eyes. I felt comforted and safe, their bright green colour leading me to wherever it was I needed to go. I did not know what would happen to me- my spirit- my soul, damaged and torn, but wherever I went, I hoped to see Lily and her beautiful green eyes one last time.

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Harry's POV

What I was seeing seemed unbelievable, but at the same time, I knew it was all true. The way Professor Snape looked at me before he died… there were no words to describe how I felt. And now I felt like I was witnessing a dream- a fantasy; I could not believe that this was Professor Snape's life. The idea that he loved a woman so much as to protect her son… the realisation that that son was me, that that woman was my mum. I wished someone had told me… I had given him so little credit… made so many assumptions. He had a much harder life than I ever could have guessed.

Professor Snape's promise to Dumbledore was: 'anything'… anything to make up for his mistake, any sacrifice he needed to make would be worth it because that's how much he loved her. This was not a man who murdered the only person to trust him and truly accept him as a member of the Order. Somehow, Professor Snape didn't murder the Headmaster- he did, but he didn't- he wouldn't have…

I cringed as I realised how blunt and harsh I was to Dumbledore that night. I actually questioned his judgement to trust Professor Snape. But this memory showed me just how wrong I was- a tremendous, though worthwhile slap in the face. I should have trusted him- both of them, but how could I have known what they were both hiding from me?

I watched the desperate look on Professor Snape's face as he stood atop the windy, gray hill with Dumbledore and wondered whether he knew just how much he would have to sacrifice to fulfil the promise he made that night. Probably not, but somehow he managed to survive it all, none of us having any idea that he was hiding such a deep and devoted love.

As I watched the next memory swirl before my eyes, I wondered what I would see- what could this memory show me that would be even more surprising than the previous one? Within seconds I saw a room I still recognised well even though I hadn't been there or seen the object it housed for six years.

The Mirror of Erised.

I walked closer to the mirror; Professor Snape was already standing in front of it. As I walked I remembered how curious I was to know what he saw, and now, after the memories I had just seen, I could have a reasonable guess. And then I recalled my original guess all those years ago and I wondered what he would have thought of me. My speculations were seriously embarrassing now; to suggest that Professor Snape even cared about the Philosopher's Stone, let alone desired possession of it was crazy. He was far more human than that, though how human, I never could have guessed, and it was still something I found hard to grasp.

I was now standing beside Professor Snape. His eyebrows were narrowed in concentration, so I followed his gaze and sure enough, my mother was standing in the mirror looking back at him. I expected her to be smiling, but she wasn't; she was… talking? I didn't know that was possible, which made me extremely curious to know what Professor Snape desired my mother to say to him.

'I forgive you?'

'Thank you for changing sides for me?'

'I'm watching over you?'

So many possibilities, and they were all wrong.

'I… love… you… Sev.'

Immediately, I turned away from the mirror to look at Professor Snape.

I felt… well I'm not sure what I felt when I saw his eyes fill with tears. He was so happy as if he had wanted to hear those words for so long, but never did.

I jumped in surprise when he suddenly fell to the floor, his knees hitting the ground with a loud 'thud'- I was sure it must've been painful. But he didn't seem to care; nothing could distract him from the mirror… from my mum. And the longer he looked, the happier he seemed to become. It was so strange to witness this moment in Professor Snape's life, and yet I felt privileged to see him happy. I wondered whether I was one of a few to have ever seen him smile. He eyes were glassy with tears, and I knew without a doubt that what his heart most desired was to be loved- truly loved, by my mother. No wonder he hated me so much… I was a constant reminder that he didn't have her because she chose someone else.

In a strange trance, I found myself absorbed in watching my professor's face. I had always perceived him to be a cold, unfeeling, bitter, and vengeful man given the way he treated me, and put down my father. But he wasn't cruel, he was just… pained... tortured. There was relief in the tears he shed, which he just then decided to brush away from his face, his eyes staring longingly into the mirror.

I turned my attention back to my mother, and watched in awe as she again mouthed those four words that meant so much to her friend.

I saw Professor Snape smile as more tears fell down his cheeks, and I cannot begin to describe to you how strange it was to hear him whisper:

"I love you too."

But far more powerful than those words was how he looked when said them. His body was shaking, and somehow I knew those words were the truest he had ever said in his life. His love was so real and so raw- no wonder why he was livid when I saw that memory of their fifth year in the pensive- it must have been so hard to hide how much he missed her after what he said.

I watched mesmerised as tears of happiness continued to fall down the man's face, his black eyes for the first time ever, were warm with love and hope. He looked overwhelmed, as if no words could explain how he felt. He rested his head in his hands, and I saw his fingers clench on his forehead as if trying to contain his feelings. After hiding them for so long, and knowing how much longer he needed to keep them from everyone, I could not help but respect him for being so determined to remain neutral for the sake of keeping his cover. No matter what was at stake, I could never hide such a powerful love in the way he did.

I felt ashamed for ever thinking that he would desire possessing the Philosopher's Stone. He may have been a Death Eater at some point in his life, but he was completely different from Voldemort… from Quirrell, from everyone I have ever known actually. And it was because of him that Voldemort offered my mother her life- because Professor Snape had begged, had risked his life to save her after the mistake he had made. All I could hope was that Mum had been able to find him- that they could be together if only for a short while… perhaps then he could be happy again.

Professor Snape took a deep breath which brought me out of my reverie. He lifted his head from his hands, but his eyes were closed. I could see trails of tear stains all down his face and neck. When his eyes opened, I saw them widen slightly as if in shock. I averted my gaze to the mirror and saw what he had probably noticed; my mother was now leaning on the mirror's frame. Her eyes were filled with tears also, but I knew they were of happiness.

Suddenly, I heard Professor Snape gasp. It made me jump with fear because it sounded like he was in pain. I wondered what had happened; he didn't appear injured. Then I realised what must have occurred: reality came crashing down on him. He turned white as a sheet, his lips turned into thin lines, and I knew he was furious with himself.

My heart skipped a beat when I saw him hit the leg of the desk next to him which shook under the force of his power.His scream of agony as he swore made me jump, my heart racing as I watched him struggle with whatever conflict was occurring in his mind and in his heart.

I harsh sob came from his lips as he buried his face in his hands once again, but this time, he was clawing at the back of his head, his forearms pressing heavily into his face. Without truly knowing what I was doing, I felt my legs take me towards him, tears springing to my own eyes as I watched him suffer. In a strange way, it was a loss to see him return to such negative emotions when his joy from moments ago was so rare and precious.I reached out to comfort my professor even though I knew I wouldn't be able to touch him. I felt compelled to do something. But before I came close to making contact with him, Professor Snape began to hyperventilate, as if breathing had become difficult for him. He pressed his palms to his eyes, but this didn't seem to help him breathe any easier.

"You're okay, Professor," I whispered instinctively wishing there was something I could do to help him. No matter what he had done to me in the past, I now understood why he treated me the way he did.

Taking some deep breaths to calm himself down, Professor Snape wiped away his tears. I stepped back from him slightly, so I could see what happened next. He looked up into the mirror again, so I looked back as well to see my mother kneeling on his right side. My eyes fell to Professor Snape's arm, where my mother's hands were wrapped tightly around it as if she wanted him to stay with her. In the mirror, I saw Professor Snape turn to his right as if expecting, like I had done myself, to see Lily there next to him. My heart broke for him when he realised once again that all he was seeing was what he wanted to see. It took me a while before I could accept that too, so I understood where he was coming from; it was hard to get used to the Mirror of Erised when it seemed so real.

My mother leaned closer to her friend as she gently pressed her lips to his arm, and then raised her head to look into his eyes. I had this overwhelming feeling that she wanted to him to feel better, and even though this was merely a representation of what Professor Snape desired, I knew that my mother would have truly wanted to comfort him. I wanted to comfort him; he seemed so vulnerable...

He closed his eyes tightly, and I wondered whether Professor Snape was trying to force himself to walk away, knowing that none of this was real even though he wished it was.

I watched Professor Snape silently, respecting and barely being able to imagine what he was going through. To experience your deepest desire to then realise it could never be reality, would be extremely difficult. I leant up against the wall, my gaze moving between him and my mother, wondering what was going to happen next.

As I had guessed, Professor Snape eventually stood up, but it looked so difficult for him. He exhaled when he moved as if it was the most difficult thing he had ever done in his life. His legs were actually shaking beneath him and I was concerned he would fall back to the ground as if his body protested his leaving her.

I looked into the mirror to see a now standing Professor Snape while my mother still knelt on the ground, her hands reaching out towards him, but no longer able to 'touch' him. I watched my teacher's face when he noticed this and for a moment I wondered whether he would crumble back down, unable to conceive seeing the love of his life reaching out to him, but refusing to grant her the comfort of touching him: real or not. But he didn't give in, and continued to stand there watching her, his eyes full of sorrow as if someone had died. Then his gaze shifted to stare out the window, and I admired his strength for being able to turn away. I walked towards him, my eyes captivated by the silent tears that were pouring down his face.

I stood there lost in thought, but after a few seconds, I turned around to stare at the rest of the room. This position he was standing in was the exact place I found him when I opened the door to this room six years ago. This was the moment I had so mistakenly intruded upon. No wonder why he was so angry at me; he was in pain, hurt and devastated, and I was the last person he wanted to see because I would remind him of her.

Although there were many other memories I witnessed in the pensive that night, including the one regarding my own fate, I never forgot that memory and what it meant to Professor Snape, and to me...

Now I understood what he was saying during the final moments of his life, and why he pulled me to him and demanded I look into his eyes. He wanted to see my mother's eyes one last time, in case he never saw them again. After so many years struggling with his feelings for my mother, as well as all he had suffered being a spy for Dumbledore, I hoped he was at peace now; he deserved it.

Thank you, Professor Snape. Wherever you are, I hope you are happy.

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Severus' POV

The light was blinding; I refused to open my eyes.

Where am I?

But I did not dare find out. Here, wherever that was, was peaceful. I felt warm and comfortable lying on my back with nothing but my own imagination to distract me. I still held an image of Lily in my mind, her bright green eyes glistening in the sunlight as she watched me in my imagination. It didn't matter where I was, as long as I could think of her and imagine being with her for the rest of my afterlife. At times, I felt myself moving in and out of consciousness, one moment dreaming, to then suddenly being able to manipulate what I saw. But mostly, the image stayed the same; the one I saw in the Mirror of Erised when Lily told me she loved me. She was standing in a meadow, her beautiful red hair flowing in the wind, her red summer dress swirling around her body in a mesmerising way. And now, it didn't matter if I dwelled on this image forever; I was dead and free to do whatever I wished in my afterlife. Thinking about Lily and dreaming of her love was the next best thing to truly being with her.

My thoughts were so utterly lost in my dream that I forgot what had happened and who I had left behind.

Potter… has he looked at my memories? Has the Dark Lord been defeated? How much time has past since I died?

At first, I ignored these questions in favour of Lily's eyes as she continued to look loving into mine- it no longer mattered what was happening on Earth because now I could finally live… feeling happy and safe knowing that she was all I needed to think about now.

But after some time, I became curious to know where I was. There was no fire like I had expected to find in Hell, and no one had approached me like I thought they might. I was utterly alone and yet blissfully happy to be so; life had never been this simple. Nevertheless, a nagging feeling in my mind warned me to the fact that I did care about the Wizarding World, and was curious, if nothing else, to know what was happening there.

After spending multiple minutes coaxing myself to make an effort to find someone who could perhaps tell me what happened to Potter and the staff and students of Hogwarts, I finally opened my eyes. I squinted against the bright light, trying to shield my eyes from the blinding pain. Originally my sight was blurry, I could barely see. But slowly everything became focused and I could see Lily's eyes looking down on me. I started; my heart pounding in anticipation. Was it Potter? Had he found me? Was the battle over, and he was dead just like I knew he needed to be?

"Potter?" I grumbled drowsily.

My heart nearly jumped out of my chest when I heard the reply.

"No Sev, it's me."

I felt myself laugh with pure joy; her angelic voice was one I never thought I would hear again. Even though I couldn't see Lily properly, I knew she was smiling, trying to hide her laughter from me. I sat bolt upright then, determined for my sight to improve. I blinked once. Twice. Three times, and then Lily appeared clearly in front of me. My best friend was kneeling next to me, her warm smile one of welcome.

"Hi," she greeted me calmly, though her white teeth sparkled in the light.

I swallowed the lump in my throat; she was so beautiful.

Is this real?

Is this a part of my dream?
Dare I hope?

"Severus? Are you okay?" she asked, her eyes now narrowed in concern.

I nodded. There were so many questions I wanted to ask her- so many things I wanted to say, but I could not find the words, I didn't know which to prioritise. I looked around me and eventually asked hesitantly.

"Where am I?"

Lily laughed merrily. It was so precious to hear her voice again.

"In Heaven, where else would you be?" she teased me.

I felt the corner of my lips turn up, my heart racing with hope; indeed, this was my Heaven.

"Mmm, I must be," I sighed contentedly, "because you are with me."

Lily reached over to me to place her hand on my cheek, her eyes brimming with tears. Immediately, I felt myself become emotional; I did not need to dream any longer… perhaps I could be with her in our after life, forever.

"This is all I have ever wanted," I told her honestly, my voice thick with emotion.

Lily nodded and I knew she understood how true this was for me.

"I know, but I don't think you understood what I meant," she said gently, her eyes sparkling with tears. "You are in Heaven, Severus, just as you deserve to be."

What?

I stared at her, my eyes wide with disbelief. My reaction amused Lily, who gave me a beautiful smile and warmly greeted me.

"Welcome home, Sev."

Home? Could I truly be in Heaven after everything I have done?

I was in shock, complete and utter shock. But Lily did not appear surprised at all. I stood up in silence, not quite sure what to do with myself as I pondered the fact that not only did Heaven exist, but that I deserved a place in it. Lily stood up with me, and gracefully walked to my side.

I was speechless; overwhelmed by what I was seeing and what I was feeling. I never could have dreamed any of this for myself. I had felt so dark, so lost, so tortured for so long that I needed to give myself time to learn how to cope with the opposite: hope, happiness, and joy. In that moment I could barely speak as my body tried to maintain control over my racing heart and my jittery stomach.

Lily was watching my face expectantly, but as she often did when we were young, she realised that I was not able to speak at that moment. My heart rate increased in intensity when I felt her gentle hand rub my back as she rested her head on my shoulder.

"Harry did it you know?" she whispered to me, her right hand making trails on my back. "Voldemort is dead."

"I am happy to hear it," I told her honestly, finding my voice again; it was easier responding to something that was not directly related to myself.

Lily nodded, her temple moving along my shoulder.

"He could not have done it without you," she told me, and I could hear the gratitude in her voice. "You have no idea how happy I am to see you- to speak with you," she added, her voice becoming louder with excitement as she wrapped her arms around me. I stood still in her arms, looking down on the top of her head as she pressed her cheek into my chest.

"I have been watching you for so long- I have seen everything you have sacrificed to be a valuable spy for Albus. You have been so amazing, Severus. You have no idea how much I respect you. Thank you for watching over Harry and making sure he stayed safe- protecting him just as James and I did. You helped him get this far; if you didn't keep an eye out on him who knows what might have happened. And all those students at Hogwarts this year- can you imagine how much they would have suffered if you hadn't gone through with Albus' plan? What would have happened to them if they had a different headmaster? But still, it pained me to see- to feel how upset you were to have to be the person you knew you weren't. I admire you so much Severus, words can barely express my gratitude," Lily spoke quickly and enthusiastically as she squeezed me to her. "We all owe so much to you, Sev. Thank you for everything you had to sacrifice in your life to help my son."

For the first time since seeing Lily, I went to touch her and relished in the feeling of her skin below mine. I gently held on to her wrists as I pulled her off me so I could look into her face.

"It was worth every moment of pain, every sacrifice, and every tear; I did it all for you, Lily," I told her feelingly, wanting her to understand that my love for her was what motivated me from the beginning and what kept me going throughout the last sixteen years of my life.

Lily nodded at me, her eyes filling with tears again. "I know."

"The greatest sacrifice I ever made was losing you," I whispered, my lips trembling in sadness as I recalled how many nights I cried myself to sleep over my foolishness for calling her a 'Mudblood', and then later being responsible for notifying the Dark Lord of the Prophecy. But I was happy too, happy that I had this moment, and hopefully many more to be with her.

A small sob escaped Lily's lips. "I know, Severus. I am so sorry," she cried.

I pulled her to my chest and gave her a hug, the first I had given since we were children.

I felt her arms wrap themselves tightly around me, her warm face pressed into my chest again, as her tears seeped through my shirt.

"It was so hard for me to watch you suffer- you were so miserable, you felt so guilty, and you were in so much pain, and- and I just hoped you'd be okay- that you would find a way to forgive yourself, because Sev, it- it wasn't your fault," she sobbed.

"Shhh," I soothed her quietly, as I kissed Lily on the top of her head. "I see that now."

"Please promise me you'll never forget it," Lily insisted passionately, and I could hear in the tone of her cries how hard it was for her to witness the torture I put myself through for destroying our friendship and her life. "We all make mistakes, but th-thank y-you for loving me that much to turn spy for Albus and for protecting my son. You have n-no idea how much it means to me."

"You are welcome, my dearest Lily. It was not hard to leave the Dark Lord for you; I would have done anything for you," I told her tearfully. "Please stop crying, Lily," I almost begged of her, "or you're going to make me cry."

Lily let go of me so she could look into my eyes. Her face was wet with tears, but her eyes were bright with adoration. I relished in her gaze and seeing those beautiful green eyes look at me in a way I had never seen before.

Reaching up, Lily placed her hand on my cheek and brushed aside a stray tear that fell as I watched her stare so lovingly at me. Then standing on her toes, she gently pulled my face down to hers and kissed me tenderly on the cheek. My heart warmed, not with hope, but with true contentment. Even though Lily and I could only ever be friends, she still loved me. In this place, I knew all that mattered was our love was genuine; it was real and felt more amazing than I ever could have dreamed it could be.

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Author's note: So that's the end of 'The deepest desire of our hearts'. Thank you SO much for reading my story, I have definitely enjoyed writing it!

Just a few quick things about this chapter: firstly, you can assume that Lily would have told Severus everything about what happened after his death including Harry's seeing his memories in the pensive, and the fact that Harry actually survived the battle. Also, I really enjoyed writing the final scene between Severus and Lily because I always wondered what would have happened when he saw Lily again (which I assumed would have happened shortly after his death in the Deathly Hallows).

As always, I REALLY look forward to hearing your thoughts about this chapter.

I truly hoped you loved it!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, if you are curious to know about future stories I will be writing in future, please 'like' my facebook page: Bumblebee_5n4p3. This page will give you access to information regarding when the next chapter for a particular story will be up, any new story ideas I might have, and teasers as well!

Thank you for being amazing readers, you have no idea how much I appreciate all of you!