AN: Shades of Green is my contribution to the AU Challenge posted on the Muffliato facebook page. After many weeks trying to round up my runaway muses, I finally got them chained down for a night of vigorous writing, and this was the response. This story, despite it's name, has no similarity whatsoever to E.L. James Fifty Shades of Grey - just thought I'd warn you in case you were hoping for faded jeans, riding crops and bondage. So anyway. The challenge required me to pair Severus Snape with a character from a totally different fandom. Naturally, my mind turned to Loki, namely Loki from the Marvel movie-verse played by the ridiculously adorable Tom Hiddleston (though you will notice I also dip into the mythology). I hope this story reveals just how much I adore these two characters, as well as the franchises from which they came. Oh, a quick note on Loki's character: this is set before the events of Thor or the Avengers (it is in the Avengers franchise because of Part Nine). As such, Loki is the trickster, and I have portrayed him as such.

AN #2: This story was self beta'd and slightly altered on Wednesday 11th September 2013.

Disclaimer: Severus Snape and the Potter-verse belongs to J.K. Rowling. Loki belongs to Marvel. A certain line belongs to Sally Gardner. I do however own a large laptop computer named Eli, several mugs of strong coffee and this strange little plot. I have no beta, so any mistakes are entirely my own.


Part One: The Windswept Hill, 1981

The hill was a bare, broken knuckle, rising from the leafless forest below. It was a haven of climatic drama, rarely untouched by the onslaught of frozen winds, ripping apart that which tried to take root. Only a bedraggled layer of grass had managed to hold on, in-dispersed with shale, sharp as broken glass. It was this carpet of discomfort upon which Severus Snape now knelt.

"And what will you give me in return, Severus?"

Albus Dumbledore's words dripped with venom, every syllable of his soft voice laced with threat. As long as he lived, Severus knew he would not forget this moment, the ramifications of his own reply. "In – in return?" he stammered, though Albus' words had been anything but unexpected. Of course the old man wanted something. Like the Dark Lord himself, Dumbledore yearned for power, though he hid all ambition beneath the convincing veneer of light.

Of course, his misgivings were irrelevant. Dumbledore could ask him to cut out his heart, sign away his soul and Severus would still do it. For Lily. Always for Lily.

"Anything."

The older man considered the younger for a moment. The pause was agonizing, settling finally to an uncomfortable silence. Dumbledore turned.

"Horace Slughorn is retiring."

Four words. At first, they struck Severus as nonsensical. Why was Dumbledore telling him this? What relevance did this have to saving Lily? Only when his mind cleared did the words take on their full weight.

"You expect me to teach?"

"I understand you were top of your class in Potions."

Irrelevant. Severus frowned. "I am a Death Eater; something tells me the parents of your students-"

Dumbledore's thin hand shot up in a gesture of silence. "What the parents do not know, will not hurt them. I trust you have not made your previous loyalties... public."

Previous loyalties. With the utterance of these six syllables, Severus felt his strings move from one puppet master to the other. He was now Dumbledore's, and he suspected his responsibilities would encapsulate more than simply teaching Potions. "What of my connection to the Dark Lord? One does not simply..."

"You will continue playing Death Eater, Severus. Make Voldemort think this was his idea, if you wish. Attend the meetings. Only now you will report everything to me."

"A spy?"

"Exactly." Dumbledore shot the kneeling wizard a quizzical smile. "One last thing, Severus. With Horace gone, you will also be taking over his role as Head of Slytherin. I trust you will find it an interesting experience."

With a crack, Dumbledore disappeared.

Severus did not rise from his position. It was only now he noticed the shards of rock slicing through his robes. No doubt the onyx cloth would be damp with blood. He did not care. The pain subdued the turmoil that raged through him. Every dream he had ever had was now shattered, irrelevant, as forgotten as the windswept hill upon which he was perched.

Tears slipped from closed eyelids, lips pressed shut in an attempt to hold back the sobs threatening to spill. He did not know how long he remained in this position. Perhaps he would have remained kneeling upon the hilltop for eternity, if it had not been for the whisper in his ear.

At first he thought he had imagined it, but the voice became stronger, dominating.

"Stop your snivelling, Severus Tobiasson. You are head of Slytherin House, not a child. Get up, you mewling quim."

Severus did not exactly know why he rose, nor why his eyelids opened. Tendrils of wind caused his robes to dance, his hair to fly, but his eyes did not fall upon the landscape this weather had tainted. Instead, he found himself looking into the most beautiful eyes he had ever seen. Green as emeralds, as the lawns of Hogwarts, as the ancient hangings in the Slytherin common room.

"Lily?"

His inquiry was met by a snort, the eyes moving away to reveal more of the face. It was a pale face, a man's face, framed by hair as dark as coal. The emerald orbs twinkled. "I have been called many things, Severus son of Tobias. Lily is not one of them."

"Who are you?"

The man disappeared, only to appear at Severus' left side. He had not even heard the snap of apparition. Now the coal black hair was covered, a horned helmet wrought of gold settled upon the man's head.

"I am your past, your present and your future." The man's voice ran like honey through the air, perfectly formed lips curving into a smirk. "Some call me Silvertongue, other's Lie-Smith, but you, Severus Snape, may call me Loki."

Severus found himself quite unsure how to react.

Loki's smirk morphed into an unreadable smile. "We shall meet again soon."

ooo

Part Two: 31st August 1981.

Horace Slughorn was as rotund as Severus remembered, the buttons of his embroidered waistcoat straining against his increasing girth. Meaty fingers were wrapped around a crystal goblet, littered with fingerprints. This was clearly not the first tipple of firewhisky the newly retired Potions Master had consumed. So far, their meeting had not exactly been unpleasant. Slughorn had been more than happy to inform his replacement of the exhaustive list of responsibilities that came with being Head of Slytherin. However, Severus had the strangest feeling that the plump socialite was skirting around something, something he knew he would have to reveal but did not wish to. The shaking cup in his hand was indication enough.

Slughorn swallowed the last of his whisky in a single gulp, placing the goblet upon the worn pine table at his side. "Before you take over as head of Slytherin, there is one last thing I must tell you," he began slowly, clearly uncomfortable. "Someone you have to meet. He doesn't much like me, but-"

"Oh, get on with it Slughorn."

Severus' breath caught, eyes widening – the only indication he would give that he was surprised. That voice, it was familiar. It was clearly familiar to Slughorn too, as his rosy cheeks had turned the unpleasant shade of sour milk. From the shadows a figure emerged: a figure enclosed in armour of gold and emerald green.

We shall meet again soon.

Severus shuddered. He had hoped that was naught but a figment of his imagination.

After what seemed an eternity, Slughorn found his voice. "This – this is Loki," he stammered. "Patron god of Slytherin House."

Loki sent Severus one of his most disturbing smiles. "We have already met."

ooo

Part Three: Halloween, 1991.

Ten years passed in a hurricane of blinding agony and loss, contrasting with the mundane. Even now, a decade after the death of his beloved Lily, Severus felt the pain as if it were yesterday. Fortunately, the day to day monotony of his life, the routine that kept him sane, had not been interrupted by the 'patron god of Slytherin House'. Every so often, Severus wondered if he had imagined it all: the windswept hill, the evening in Slughorn's office. At first he had consumed every ounce of information he could on the god, even referring to ancient Muggle tomes written in obscure dialects. When Loki showed no further sign of appearing, he had placed aside this academic venture, but it did not stop the dreams: dreams of golden palaces, helmed gods, the God of Mischief and his emerald gaze.

It was Halloween, and the Potions master found himself once more wiping Loki from his mind. With his silver fork, he poked the small clump of roasted pumpkin on his plate with little enthusiasm. He hated Halloween. He hated the pumpkins, the dancing skeletons, the tacky enchanted bats. More than anything, he hated the students: one in particular. He had promised Dumbledore he would help protect Lily's son, but the boy looked so much like his father, acted so much like his father. He was a constant flesh and blood reminder that Lily had chosen James Potter. That she had chosen his enemy.

Any further musing of this kind was swiftly cut short by Quirrell's impromptu entrance, the news of a troll in the dungeon, the shrieking mass of students now struggling to extricate themselves from the food laden hall.

Three hours later Severus dragged himself back to his chambers, the gash in his leg agonising. It had been Dumbledore's idea that he check on Fluffy, to make sure no one had gotten past the stupid dog. Of course, the headmaster had failed to realise that the three-headed monster would be just as keen for a bite of Potions Master. Then there was Potter and his foolish little friends, tackling the troll alone. What made his mood all the more sour, was the presence of a certain individual, reclining comfortably in Severus' worn leather desk chair.

The God of Mischief had changed little since their previous encounter. His face was still sickeningly handsome, flushed with false youth. His tall physique was swathed in a black frock coat and pants, clearly pilfered from Severus' own wardrobe. Long fingers clutched a tumbler of whisky, its identical brother half filled on Severus' desk.

"It has been a long time, has it not?"

Severus scowled. "What are you doing here?"

Rather than act offended, Loki smiled. "Life in Asgard grows dull, and I could hardly resist the temptation of watching three mortal children taking on a mountain troll."

"You saw that?"

"I relished it," Loki replied, taking a sip of the whisky. "This firewhisky is surprisingly good. I thought all your kind swilled was fetid mead and watered wine."

"I have no time for this."

"Oh, you will find time for it, son of Tobias. You see, a certain colleague of yours came to me this evening with a rather interesting request."

"You talk to my colleagues?"

Loki shook his head. "Not out of habit. Unfortunately, said colleague knew how to summon me from Asgard. I was unimpressed to say the least."

"Get on with it."

"Patience," Loki chuckled. "Do you have any idea why Quirinius Quirrell would want to set a troll loose at Hogwarts?"

"Quirrell?" Severus forgot the pain in his leg, falling onto the chair before his own desk. Quirrell had set the troll loose? The man was irritating, but Severus did not think him capable of that. He was pondering this when another thought struck. "You provided him with the troll?"

Loki shrugged. "I have a way with trolls."

"Let me guess, you've slept with one?"

Once again, the God of Mischief chuckled. "I see you have done your research. My choice of lovers may be vast and varied, but I admit, I have yet to bed a troll. How fortunate there happens to be one in the castle?"

Trying to push the repugnant thought of Loki and the unconscious troll from his mind, Severus gulped the offered firewhisky. "I thought you were the patron god of Slytherin. Why would you provide a Ravenclaw with a mountain troll?"

"It seemed like a good idea at the time. I understand this Halloween is a time for monsters and such. You're lucky I did not lend him my son Jörmungandr. He's what you would call a basilisk."

Severus gulped, suddenly thankful that Loki had provided only a troll. As much as he would like to see Potter on the receiving end of a basilisk's glare, he had promised...

"Well, as much as I would like to remain here, I have a mountain troll to take care of." Loki winked and disappeared, leaving Severus to ponder exactly what the God of Mischief meant by take care of.

ooo

Part Four: Halloween, 1992

THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS HAS BEEN OPENED.

ENEMIES OF THE HEIR, BEWARE.

Severus did not know how he found himself in the corridor alone. Students and staff had departed; Mrs Norris had been taken down by a distraught Argus Filch. All that remained were the words, like violent scars upon the smooth cold stone.

"Crass, I'll concede, but effective."

Severus turned at the all-too-familiar voice, yet saw nothing but shadows. Footsteps echoed behind him, dampened by the small lake of water spilling from beneath the bathroom door. The owner of the footsteps appeared, once more in his gold and green armour. The horned helm distorted the light, printing a demonic imagine upon the opposing wall.

"You!"

Severus' voice was naught but a hiss, but it carried far within the deserted corridor.

Loki nodded. "Me."

"What are you doing here?"

"You seem to ask me that a great deal," the god chided. "I may start taking it personally. In all seriousness, I came to see what mayhem would befall my beloved Hogwarts this Halloween."

Severus could not help but pick up the sarcasm encircling Loki's use of the word beloved. More than anything, he wished the god would go. Why did he have to choose Halloween of all nights? It was a night fit only for the vigorous consumption of firewhisky, followed by fits of dreamless sleep, a futile and short lived attempt to rid his mind of the knowledge that Lily had perished twelve years before on this very day.

But there was something about Loki's words that stabbed at him. "Did you have something to do with this?" Severus pointed to the scarlet words.

A trickle of laughter left the god's lips, dousing the corridor in an echoed symphony of "ehehehehe".

"Answer me, Loki!"

"I do not take orders from mortals," snapped Loki, his voice losing all edge of dreaminess. "If you must know, I had nothing to do with this little incident. I was merely reflecting on old times."

"You know of the Chamber of Secrets?"

"Know of it?" Loki smirked. "Salazar Slytherinmade it for me. Hogwarts was built at a time when the separation between gods and mortals was not so vast." Loki's long fingers brushed against the stone wall, right under the message. "My father, Odin, discovered that this school was being constructed and decided to reward my brother and I with our very own houses. Thor, of course, took Gryffindor. I chose Slytherin. I did not take into account that Salazar was as possessive as I am; he did not want the other founders to benefit from my presence. You see, while my brother is brave and strong, I possess magicks unlike anything you can imagine. Salazar built this chamber so we could meet in private, away from their prying eyes."

"Meet?"

"We were lovers, yes."

"Is there anyone you have not slept with?"

Loki merely shrugged. "One or two. Yet it is those that I cannot have that I usually want the most." Piercing emerald eyes bore into Severus' onyx ones, a disconcerting experience to say the least. The Potions Master was the first to pull away.

"Do you know how to get into the Chamber?"

Loki shook his head. "I teleported there. I do not know how Salazar entered the chamber."

Severus was disappointed, but did not reveal it. Silence reigned for a few minutes before he finally spoke once more. "Will you return next Halloween?"

"I suspect so, yes."

"Why?"

The god sent him a quizzical glance. "Because that is when you need me most, Severus son of Tobias."

ooo

Part Five: Halloween, 1993

By the time Halloween arrived in Harry Potter's third year at Hogwarts, Severus Snape was sure of two things. The first: that Potter would place himself in a potentially lethal situation. The second: that he would receive a visitation from Loki. The first filled him with dread, but Severus was not so sure of the second. He had to concede, the god's presence every Halloween did ease the pain he usually associated with the day. He was such a curious being. Slughorn had said Loki never visited the castle while he was Head of Slytherin. What made Severus the exception?

Perhaps it was best not to ponder too hard upon this question.

But ponder he did. The God of Mischief filled his mind as he picked at the roast pork upon his plate. It was delicious, but the Potions Master had never been a big eater. The sight of hundreds of children stuffing their faces with sweets also played a part in diminishing his appetite. By the end of the sumptuous meal, Severus had almost convinced himself that absolutely nothing was going to happen this Halloween.

It was a foolish thought, as soon he found out.

Sirius Black was in the castle.

Severus had been half way to his chambers before he found out. It was as though he had been doused by scalding water, the fury that engulfed him was that intense. The man responsible for the death of his Lily was here. Here. His mind filled with images of Black's laughing face, cruelty encapsulated, and the fury morphed to rage.

Without thought, he pushed passed a gaggle of Slytherin students, robes billowing like wings as he ascended the dungeon stairs. He did not know how his wand shot into his hand, but there it remained, sparks darting from the end in a physical show of his emotions.

"Severus!"

Dumbledore's voice rung across the Great Hall, bringing Severus to a reluctant stop. He was mere inches from the bolted front doors.

"Severus, it is good I have found you. I suppose you have heard the news?"

"Obviously." Severus could not keep the impatience from his voice. "What is it that you want, headmaster? As you can see, I am in quite a hurry."

"I would like you to check the dungeons, Severus."

"Check the dungeons? Albus, surely you do not believe Black is there?"

"We have to check. If he is still in the castle, he is a danger to students." The old man gently touched Severus' sleeve. "Remember your duty, Severus."

Severus could almost hear the subtext oozing from Dumbledore's words. Potter first, quest for vengeance second. Damn him.

Taking a deep breath, the Potions master headed toward the sanctity of the dungeons, knowing full well that Sirius Black was not hiding within their labyrinthine depths. It was in the final classroom searched that he encountered him.

"Loki, I am not in the mood."

"You rarely are, dear Severus."

The eerie white light of Severus' wand glinted off the god's ornate armour, rendering the gold a shimmering platinum. "What you search for is not here."

"If you know where Black is," Severus breathed, trying to reign in his anger, "why don't you capture him?"

"I do not know where he is, Severus. I simply know he is not here. Your enemy hides himself in a form that not even I can track. Even if I could, I am not Heimdall, I cannot see all."

Severus captured the god in a look of pure dislike. "Then what good are you?"

ooo

Part Six: Halloween, 1994.

"Loki! LOKI! Show yourself, you damned trickster."

The Potions master was well aware he looked a fool, screaming nonsense into an empty room. His office remained as cold and lifeless as it had when he left. No doubt the lie-smith had darted away already, filling the air with his trickle of "ehehehehe". Grabbing a jar from a nearby shelf, Severus pelted it at the wall, revelling in the pulverised glass, the scent of spilt potion.

"Though I am sure that blood-sucking Arachnopod deserved its fate; that was a little brutal, even for you."

Severus spun on his heel, wand pointing straight at the intruder. "Why – did – you – do – it?"

Despite the venom in Severus' voice, the lie-smith did not even have the decency to look concerned. "Do what, exactly?"

"Put Potter's name in the Goblet of Fire!"

"Despite contrary opinion, I am not responsible for every bout of mischief that takes place within this castle." With a swish of his hand, Loki repaired the smashed jar, returning the pickled creature and preserving fluid to its rightful home. "Surely, as patron god of Slytherin, I would choose to place a child of my own house into the Goblet?"

"You are no patron god of Slytherin," Severus spat, snatching the jar from Loki's hands. "What have you ever done for this house? We can't even win a bloody game of Quidditch!"

"And for good reason," shivered Loki. "Have I ever told you how much I hate the game? My brother Thor on the other hand-"

"Do I look as though I care?" Sparks started to shoot from the end of Severus' wand. You are nothing but a hindrance, sent here to annoy me! I want you gone!"

"Then I will go."

ooo

Part Seven: Halloween, 1996.

Severus did not see the God of Mischief again for two years.

Much had changed, rendering his memories of the god utterly redundant. His face, his infuriating laugh, his emerald eyes had been thrust to the back of Severus' mind. Every day was a bout of torture as he hung like a hopeless puppet between two warring masters. Oh, how he loathed them both. On the one hand, he played doting Death Eater. Though he managed to avoid partaking in the repulsive acts of rape and violence preferred by his fellows, he felt equally as violated every time he knelt to kiss the Dark Lord's robes.

Dumbledore was no better. He, with his twinkling eyes, reminding Severus at every given moment that he had a duty to perform – an agonising duty.

The duty that would change the course of his life.

Every night, Severus thought about the ramifications of the act he would have to commit. His acts as a Death Eater were appalling enough, but to kill the great Albus Dumbledore. Admittedly, the old man was already close to death, cradling his cursed hand as though it were an ailing child. Severus tried to convince himself it was for the best, but deep down inside he knew that once the act was done, he could never turn back. His side had been chosen for him. He would forever be a villain.

Weighed heavy by this burden, Severus found himself preparing for yet another Halloween. He did not know if Loki would return, and he told himself he did not care. The last thing he needed this night was an infuriating trickster hanging about. He had more important things to concern himself with, namely, surviving a Halloween themed party at the Malfoy Manor.

It would hardly be a frivolous occasion. Narcissa Malfoy would stage a brave face, ducking off now and again to sob about her husband's incarceration. The Dark Lord would make a brief appearance, addressing his Death Eaters before disappearing into the blackness, Wormtail following like a lecherous pup.

Dumbledore thought it was the perfect opportunity to gather intelligence, and so Severus had been ordered to attend.

Despite Lucius' absence, the Malfoy Manor was a riot of pompous splendour. The white peacocks continued to patrol the grounds, every hedge and lawn cut to perfection. Delicate strains of music spilled from windows and doors, lending the mansion a false veneer of warmth.

"Severus, it is so good to see you!"

Slim, blonde and beautiful, Narcissa Malfoy had never looked as stunning as she did then. Perhaps it was the presence of emotion in her eyes, a resounding sadness that brought out her natural radiance. Severus did not know. Nevertheless, he allowed her to embrace him, ignoring the fiery glare of her wild sister, Bellatrix Lestrange.

Narcissa handed him a glass, leading him toward the drawing room, where several other people had gathered. "I did not think you would come. With your duties at the castle..." Her voice trailed off, her mind evidently distracted by the thought of her son, alone, struggling within the castle walls.

Severus nodded. Small talk was not exactly his forte. Besides, his attention, like Narcissa's, was elsewhere.

More specifically, with the imposing figure that blocked the delicately carved marble hearth.

Loki.

Severus could only see his back, but there was no mistaking the obsidian locks, the long fingers that grasped the handle of a jewel encrusted goblet.

"Narcissa," he murmured, gently grazing the woman's velvet clad arm. "Who is that man?"

Narcissa's pale eyes turned to the direction of Severus' gaze. "Oh. He is Lucius' distant cousin. Lachlan, I think he said his name was. He reminds me of you, a little."

Of course he did, Severus sneered to himself. The lie-smith was wearing his clothing.

The evening panned out much as Severus had expected. The Dark Lord did indeed make an appearance, long enough for everyone to kiss the hem of his robes. Severus could not help but notice that Loki was not present for this. The party was truly boring, but Severus accepted Narcissa's offer of accommodation none-the-less. It was nice, on occasion, to sleep within a haven of luxurious comfort. It was something he had never experienced as a child.

All thoughts of sleep, however, were dredged from his mind when he saw the figure sitting on his bed.

"Loki."

Green eyes shot up. "Severus."

"Should I even bother to ask you why you are here?"

"Were I to answer that question truthfully, I doubt you would believe me," Loki replied. The softness of his voice disturbed Severus, as did the obvious lack of Dumbledore-esque sparkling in those emerald orbs. "Let us just say that life in Asgard once more grows dull."

"Surely there are other mortals you can stalk?"

"Most mortals do not interest me," Loki began, "your kind is dull, small, weak. You are my exception, Severus."

"What do you mean by that?" Severus whispered, wishing he had not closed the door.

"You are the one that I have not been able to have, but desperately want."

Severus' back collided with the door now, his only avenue of escape. He could not help but feel like the sausage that had fallen from the frying pan into the fire. "Want? I have never given you the impression that I enjoy the company of –"

"Men?" Loki smiled softly now. "When you have lived for over a thousand years, it somewhat broadens the range of your desires, Severus. Tell me, have you ever actually been with a man?"

Of course not. Severus' experience with women was limited; his experience with men was subsequently non-existent. Loki did not exactly seem deterred by his lack of response, removing himself from the bed. With a few strides, he closed the space between them, his lips falling millimetres away from Severus'. Absorbed by eyes of emerald, the Potions Master felt his breath hitch, stolen by the lightest of kisses. Loki's voice poured in his ear, a magic of its own, taking his mind. "I will be the first man to kiss you," he hissed, brushing his lips against Severus' jaw. "To bed you, whether you come willingly or not." Their lips reunited. Severus felt compelled to pull away, but instead found his fingers curling in the god's obsidian locks. In a moment of bravery (or was it stupidity?) he took control. Loki did not complain as his own back was slammed against the door, or as the Potions Master's tongue slipped between his parted teeth.

Nothing mattered in this moment. As his lips moved to the perfect ivory flesh of Loki's neck, he felt it was as though Dumbledore and Voldemort had ceased to exist. The dark mark was naught more than a tattoo, acquired in a foolish moment. As long, pale fingers slipped beneath the waistline of his austere black pants, all that he cared about was his Loki, his patron god.

ooo

Part Eight: Stolen Moments, 1997-8.

Loki did not wait until the following Halloween to meet once more with Severus. Rather, he would appear in the Potions Master's chambers three or four nights a week. There were occasions upon which they would just talk, and it was in these blessed moments that Severus began to learn of Asgard. It was like something from a dream: a golden citadel, monsters that he could not even begin to imagine, Odin, Thor, figures of myth told to Muggle children. In the past, Severus would have been sceptical, very sceptical of Loki's words. Perhaps the years had softened him. Or maybe it was the skilled fingers of the God of Mischief?

The strangest sensation for Severus was the realisation that he did not only have a lover, he also had a friend. Dumbledore fashioned himself as a friend, but it was a false veneer, one that ended atop the Astronomy tower, as Severus' curse had slammed into his chest.

Loki had comforted him that night, allowing himself to be dominated upon the very same windswept plateau where they had first met.

After that, every day had melded into the next. He was a cursed man, doomed to live with the guilt of Lily's and now Dumbledore's death. The only joy he found was in stolen moments. Snatched kisses in the corridors, moments of passion in the Forbidden forest. Severus still did not quite understand Loki's motivation for being with him, but he simply did not care.

oOoOoOo

"Look... at... me."

The words ached as they left his throat. Nagini's venom was like fire in his veins, slowly shutting down his internal organs. The solution lay in a tiny vial, imbedded within a hidden pocket of his coat, but Severus felt no inclination to reach for it.

He had prepared for this moment. Expected it.

Unlike Dumbledore, unlike Voldemort, he would not fight Death. He would greet him (or her, if Loki was to be believed), like an old friend. It was the last shred of dignity he could achieve, his last great act. With his demise came the truth, a truth Potter so desperately needed to know.

Green found black. Almond shaped eyes so stunning they took away his breath. Lily's eyes. Yet as his life faded, Severus thought of another pair of eyes. Not just emerald, but orbs rendered in many shades of green.

Loki.

oOoOoOo

Harry Potter entered the tunnel leading to the Shrieking Shack alone.

Ron and Hermione had offered to accompany him, but Harry knew this was something he had to do on his own. For so long he had loathed Snape, he still did, but now there was something else. The truth. Severus Snape had loved his mother, had protected him for so many years. The least he could do was retrieve his body.

After what seemed an eternity, the Boy that Lived spotted the small speck of light at the end of the tunnel. Though he knew what to expect on the other side, the prospect of seeing Snape's body, the pool of blood, filled him dread. His pace picked up, the light growing brighter, the sobs growing louder...

The sobs?

Harry halted at the entrance, breath lodged in his throat. He had experienced much in his short life, but Harry Potter would never forget this sight. The strangest man he had ever seen, cradling the body of Snape, tears dripping down cheeks as pale as freshly fallen snow. The man's green and gold armour was streaked with crimson, a horned helmet lying at his side amidst a pool of dried blood.

It took a moment for the man to realise Harry's presence. The sobbing stopped, green eyes meeting green.

"You are the Potter boy."

It came across as statement and threat, the man's voice clipped, cold, analysing. Harry nodded, his tongue paralysed.

"You will tell no one of this," the man hissed. "Should even an inkling of this slip by your lips, I will know, Harry Potter and I will find you."

Harry nodded again. Behind the man's beautiful face, he could sense danger, danger he personally did not want to cross.

The man moved from Snape's body, fingers taking the golden helmet. Laying a soft kiss upon the Potions Master's brow, he turned once more to Harry.

"Give him a funeral worthy of a hero."

And with that he was gone.

ooo

Part Nine: Stark Tower, 2012.

Revenge.

It had seemed such a tempting prospect. Revenge against his brother, against his false father, against the realm that had snatched away his Severus. Fourteen years had passed, but this was naught but a minute to someone who had lived as long as he. He had informed no one of his experiences, and prior to this recent invasion, had not returned to Midgard. Hogwarts sheltered no interest for him now, the new Heads of Slytherin would never know of their patron god. Oh, how he had wanted revenge.

But his half-baked plans for Midgardian domination had brought him nothing but pain. In the throes of physical agony, the aftermath of the Hulk's attack, he realised the full price of his invasion. He had lost his brother, his freedom, and for what? The off chance that his success would ease the pain of losing Severus, of discovering that he himself was a monster.

He had been a fool.

Opening his eyes did not seem like a particularly pleasing prospect. He could already feel the blinding stabs of his bones reconnecting, his muscles stitching together. His face felt as though it had been cut with a thousand knives. Evidently he had underestimated the Hulk.

This was not something he would do again.

"Stop your whining, Loki Laufeyson."

Loki gulped. How? That voice, he had not heard it in fourteen years. How?

"You are the patron god of Slytherin House, not a child."

He opened his eyes, only to find himself looking at the strangest apparition. A ghost. He had seen them at Hogwarts, but he had never imagined that Severus himself would chose to become one. His body filled with ice as the apparition planted a soft kiss on his cheek.

"Get up, you mewling quim."

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