Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters.
Forest of Mystery.
Amaris apparated to the Dark Lord's latest hiding place. She had the potions firmly packed in a padded box, making sure that nothing would harm them. She had taken a calming potion before leaving, she needed to appear as calm and collected as always and she feared that the excitement she felt would sip through her occluded mind.
The Death Eaters guarding the large throne room opened the doors for her as she stepped closer, allowing her to step in without pausing in her stride. Voldemort was sitting in his usual place, Pettigrew snivelling at his feet, and a few other Death Eaters waiting around him for instructions. Amaris was secretly relieved to notice none of the Death Eaters belonged to the inner circle. She would have to make her escape quickly and she had a much better chance of doing so if there was no one really powerful around.
Voldemort paused in his speech as he saw her approach. "Ah, Amaris, punctual as always."
The woman knelt in front of him and offered the box with the vials. "Here are your potions as you ordered, My Lord."
Just like any other time, Pettigrew slid over to her and took the box. Then, he approached the Dark Lord and handed the potions one by one after having taken a sip out of them himself. Amaris always had to suppress a small smile at the ritual. Voldemort was nothing if not paranoid. The witch watched impassively as potion after potion went down the snake-like throat. When the third potion made it into the Dark Lord's hand, her hand closed around the necklace, ready to think the words that would activate the portkey should the vial do its function.
As if in slow motion, Aramis watched as Voldemort's snakelike hand came forth and took the vial from the other man's hand. The moment the Dark Lord came in contact with the hidden portkey, a soft pop rang through the room, taking not only him but also Pettigrew, who hadn't released the vial yet, to the Forest of Mystery.
A sharp gasp ran through the room, but Aramis didn't wait to see what would happen next. With a muttered word, she also disappeared, leaving the Death Eaters in disarray, wondering what exactly had happened.
Voldemort looked around, an enraged frown on his snake-like face. He didn't know what that woman was playing at, but he was going to make her regret it. At first, when he had touched the portkey, he had expected to find himself surrounded with aurors, Dumbledore standing at the front of them. So, he was surprised to find himself outside, in some kind of Forest, with Pettigrew snivelling at his side. With a disgusted glance at his unwilling companion, he took his wand out of his pocket and tried to apparate back to his throne room. The only thoughts that ran through his mind were the torture he would put Aramis through for trying to betray him. He didn't sense that anything was wrong until he failed to apparate away. He felt his magic leave his body, but he didn't move from where he was and instead, he started to feel weak. There was something wrong.
Peter watched in horror as his master fell on the ground with a weak groan. Under his terrified eyes, the Dark Lord's body started to disintegrate, and the snake-like man didn't seem to have the energy to utter a single scream of rage. With a last sigh, Lord Voldemort slipped into a peaceful death, killed by his own magic. His soul, which had already survived once before, didn't have the power to sustain even a half existence, so it was forced to slip away, leaving no other sign of the Dark Lord other than an used robe and one of his servants.
Peter, scared at his master's demise, turned into his animagus form, finding out just a bit later that he no longer possessed the magic to turn back. He would remain a rat for the rest of his short live.
Aramis sighed as she appeared safely at Severus' villa. The sun coming through the large windows blinded her momentarily, bringing a small smile on her shallow face. A sense of freedom filled her as she looked around the beautiful place. Severus sure had good taste. Moving towards the table, she saw a stack of papers lying on the table, the promised potion resting next to it. With a small smile, she swallowed the potion, watching in wonder as the Dark Mark left her arm, just as the man had promised her. She was finally free, after so many years she could finally live her life as she wished to. With a small laugh, she looked through the papers, seeing that Severus had signed the house over to her as well as the service of two house-elves. With a small spring to her step, she left the room, intending to look through the whole place before starting to set up everything she had brought with her. It was time to live again.
The children had been trying to get through the day as usual, ignoring the questioning looks Kingsley, Bill, and Remus shot them from time to time. None of them knew exactly the time in which Voldemort would be handed the portkey. Severus watched in amusement as the children darted through the house, trying to find something to occupy their time. Finally, growing tired of their incessant walking around he called a house-elf.
"Nancy, please, tell the children to get down here, now."
Kingsley, who had been reading at his side, raised an eyebrow at him. "What's going on with the kids? They're acting as if a mount of presents is waiting for them and they have to wait to open them."
Severus snorted, thinking that Voldemort's death would certainly be a fine present to anyone. "Who knows what got into them today, but it's about time someone put a stop to it."
The children started to come in, curious looks on their face. Severus motioned for them to sit down, and they did, sitting as usual on the floor in front of him. When finally Neville entered, and they were all there, Severus took out a book on charms. "I think it's about time we started to work a bit on magical theory."
All the children groaned and the older man sent them a stern look. "If you're so bored that you can't settle down on doing something, you can study for a while."
While some of them pouted, they admitted to themselves that having something to do would be better than to wander around waiting for the big moment. Twenty minutes later, they were engrossed in an intent discussion about cleaning charms and their uses and misuses. None of them noticed when Dumbledore, Minerva, and Remus joined them, watching in amazement as Severus lectured his charges with patience, answering all their questions and allowing for a debate to grow around them.
The older witch shook her head in wonder. "If he had taught that way, the students would have been much more happy with their potions lessons."
Remus smirked a bit. "I doubt it would have worked very well."
Dubledore was about to add his own opinion to the soft voices when Severus' deep voice stopped abruptly. They all turned to the Potions Master as his gaze glared intently to a window.
Ron, who had been sitting closest to the older man, put a hand on his knee.
The potions Master turned to them. "It has started. The portkey has been activated."
The children looked at each other in excitement, wondering what would happen next. The tension in the room was growing, and Dumbledore was about to ask what was going on when suddenly, Harry bent over with his hands to his head, a groan of pain coming from the boy. Severus and Hermione, having half expected it, were at his side at once. The other children stood up and stepped back a bit, giving the two space to work and also preventing the other adults of crowding the trio.
Severus quietly bent over Harry, noticing that there was blood seeping from his curse scar.
"What's going on, Harry?"
The boy's pain filled eyes looked dully up at him. "He is enraged, he feels that someone has betrayed him." He was interrupted with another sharp pain and then a sense of peacefulness started to fill him, leaving him numb and tired. "He tried to apparate away and couldn't, his magic is leaving him. He's dying, Uncle Sev."
The weak voice from the boy brought home a terrifying realisation. Voldemort was sucking Harry's power to remain alive. With more strength than necessary, Severus turned Harry's head to him, startling Hermione.
"Harry, look at me!"
The boy's eyes blinked open slowly and locked with the dark eyes of the older man. In an instant, Severus was inside the boy's mind, trying desperately to find the link that united him to the Dark Lord. He was delving deeper into the boy's mind when he suddenly found that he wasn't alone anymore. Harry was standing right next to him, looking up at him seriously.
"He's trying to take me down with him, isn't he, Uncle Sev?"
The older man snorted softly. "I doubt it's intentional. His body is trying to support his failing magic." The man cursed as he continued to look for the link. "I should have thought something like this might happen."
Harry watched as his guardian continued his frantic search, a curiously flat expression on his face. "You shouldn't bother."
Severus froze and slowly turned to look at him, a deadly expression on his face. "What did you just say?"
Harry regarded him calmly. "The second Voldemort dies, my destiny will be fulfilled, and there won't be a need for me to live further." Severus stared with raising fury as the boy continued. "It would be better for everyone if I died with the Dark Lord, that has always been my destiny anyway."
With two quick steps, Severus was at Harry's side, he turned the emotionless boy around and spanked his behind three times, drawing a surprised grunt from the teenager. Severus turned him around once more and looked him intently in the eye.
"Now you're going to listen to me very closely. If you ever say such nonsense again, I will have you over my knee in a second, and you will get the spanking of your life. You are not going to die. I am going to find that link and break it, then, we'll go back to the others and we're going to have a very serious talk about what you said there. Got it?"
Harry nodded, a stunned expression on his face. He felt himself grow stronger as Severus continued his search, unconsciously supporting his failing magic. It seemed the man wasn't about to give him up. With a small sigh, Harry started to help with the search. Knowing his mind much better than the other man, he was quickly able to locate the link. He quietly forced it to the surface of his mind so that Severus could see it clearly. The older man shot him a sharp glance but without a word he started to work on dissolving the link.
The Potions Master had thought it would be much more difficult to sever the link, but Voldemort's failing magic no longer had the strength to keep up its end of the link so it was with a few tugs of his own magic that he managed to break it. With a sigh, Severus left the boy's mind.
The Slytherin blinked as he returned to his own body. He noticed that everyone was starring at him intently, but he only had eyes for the boy lying in his arms. With a groan, Harry opened his eyes and brought a shaking hand to his forehead. "That hurt."
Severus snorted. "No surprise there, we broke that link rather abruptly."
Harry blinked up at him, as if surprised to see him there. Then he flushed deeply. "I can't believe you spanked me."
Severus glowered sternly down at him. "Believe me that I will do it again if I hear you say such nonsense again. And then it will be in real life, not in your mind, are we clear?"
Harry looked down, faintly embarrassed but also secretly pleased, here was someone who really cared about him and that would protect him, even from himself. "Yes, Uncle Severus."
A soft cough startled them out of their conversation. Dumbledore raised an eyebrow. "Could someone tell us what is going on, please?"
At the end of the year, Dumbledore couldn't help but look around the Great Hall in pleasure. The year had started darkly, the threat of Voldemort deeply entrenched in everyone's minds and the fear of death spread heavily around the air. And now here they were. The Gryffindor house was once again complete and Voldemort was dead. Looking around, he was a bit sad when he didn't see Severus at his usual place. The dour man had refused to return to teach at the school. Instead he had spent his days building up a potions research business with a friend of his and fighting for the custody of Harry and Neville. The Slytherin had once again managed to get his wishes. His business was growing, gaining a very good reputation as the months went by. And this summer, Neville and Harry would go home to someone who cared about them. Dumbledore smiled slightly as he watched the Gryffindor sixth years joking quietly with each other. He suspected Severus would have to deal with a few teenagers more besides his own charges.
Oh, well, he would leave Severus to deal with them, he just needed to get ready for the next school year, and maybe start considering retirement; he was starting to feel old after all.