The moment you enter the warzone, you have to accept the fact that your life has been taken away from you, if you found that you survived the war, it means God has given it back to you

- Unknown

It had been an unexpected twist of fate when Severus Snape had opened his eyes and once again saw the inside of the shrieking shack. For a moment he felt only confusion, but slowly other sensations began to come back to him. He was aware on a vague level that he was in pain, but it seemed to be coming to him through a hazy filter. Intellectually he knew that was because the snake venom was damaging his nerve endings, but he found that he could not be upset by that. He was strangely at peace even though he had always thought he would die before the war had ended. If he were to have guessed what he would feel after having giving his deepest secrets away to Harry Potter only to live to see what the prat would do with it, he would have assumed he would be terribly angry but he found he was nonplussed.

With a slowness that told of how injured he was he brought his hand up to touch his throat and found that there was no wound present. Still, he did not feel much in response to that. He pulled on a deep strength and rolled his unresponsive body until he was lying on his stomach in the dried pool of his own blood. When the world stopped spinning he saw that there was a discarded potion vial lying beside him on the floor.

He focused his attention on the bottle, and he saw a familiar print on the label. He wondered vaguely when Miss Granger had even been present in the shack as he read their labels. Apparently she had tended his wounds with an entire bottle of dittany before disappearing. In the heat of war he couldn't really blame her for forgetting that such a high dose of dittany caused lethargy and complacency in the patient. He wondered vaguely if she had done that on purpose, and if he weren't so very tired he might have smiled and the thought of it.

Instead he focused all of his strength on attempting to pull himself up off of the floor. He heaved and he struggled, but his body would hardly follow his instructions. He had only managed to get his legs under him so that he was crouched awkwardly on the ground when he heard voices in the tunnel that lead to the shrieking shack.

"Hermione, this is idiotic," the angry voice of Ronald Weasley shouted. "I should be with my family right now, not chasing after you on some stupid mission to tend a dead body."

"Ron, I have to do this," the girl shouted back at him, her voice much closer than his had been.

"No you don't," he shouted back, his voice growing closer. "Leave the bastard for the ministry to deal with, and come back with me!"

"We can go back in just a second," she said in a placating voice, no longer yelling, but close enough to the hidden door that Severus could hear her nearly perfectly. "Just let me do this first."

"Hermione," the boy answered, and it sounded like he had begun to cry. "Why are you doing this?'"

The girl didn't answer. There was a bit of silence, and then Severus heard the tinkling sound of several vials of potion rolling across the floor. It remained quiet after that, save for the sound of footsteps leading away from the door.

"Nevermind Ron," she answered him quietly. "We can go back, it's okay."

Severus listened to Miss Granger comforting Mr. Weasley as the pair of them shuffled away, and tried to find the strength to pull himself over to the potions the girl had thrown to him. He didn't know why the girl cared if he lived or died, nor why she would put so much effort in to trying to heal him when her closest friend was fighting her every step of the way but he wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.

So he drew on his last reserves of strength and he drug his tired body over to the three vials that were sitting just inside the door. He could have sung his relief when he saw that she had brought him a bottle of blood replenishing potion, a strength potion, and an invigorating draught. With those three potions he could walk out of this little shack under his own power, and it was even better that no one had seen him since he had been attacked. For all the wizarding world needed to know he had died in this little shack. He would no longer be beholden to these people. He was free.

And so Severus Snape consumed the three potions he had been gifted by Hermione Granger, and found that he could pull himself up off of the floor and retrieve his wand with considerably less effort. As soon as he had his wand in hand he focused his mind on the mental image of his home in Spinner's End and with a resounding crack he disappeared from the shrieking shack.

Home was not the word he thought of when he walked into the house that had raised him. Anything associated with the life he had been living for the last twenty years was so tainted with depression that he could hardly stand to look at it, but for tonight it would do. He took his time showering, slowly washing the evidence of his brush with death and allowing the warm water to further relax the pain from his limbs.

When he could think more clearly he went in search of his private potion stores. He still had antivenin left over from when he had helped the healers bring Arthur Weasley back from the brink, and he had to hope that same potion might help restore some of the damage done to his nerves, if not at least halting any progressing damage. He took that as well as a pain potion and then he sought out his bed. His eyes were just beginning to droop from the heavy dose of pain reliever he had taken when he slipped underneath the blankets.

The world slipped away from him quickly, but he was surprised to find himself in a dream world that was fuzzy around the edges. There was a strange mist around him that gave it away as a dream, but he couldn't have been surer that it was a dream when Hermione Granger appeared at his side. They were in an attic, and he was reclined on a cot with recently healed wounds. She was holding his hand, and whispering to him but he could not hear anything that she said. Instead he focused on how caring she was, and how soft her hands were as they held his. Her tears rained down on his white shirt and he wanted nothing more than to reach out and comfort her, but he could not move.

Eventually the morning came, and in the light of day the dream slowly faded away taking his confusion with it. Severus rose with a new lease on life, and he dressed for the first time in more years than he cared to count in something other than a frock coat. He pulled on his slacks with an olive green oxford, and he began throwing together the things he had collected over the years for an escape plan. He packed clothes, emergency potions, and the documents connected to the muggle bank account he had siphoned slowly out of his Gringotts account over the last few years.

It wasn't much to start a new life with, but it was enough to get him out of England and that was all he needed. He had given everything to this war, and it was time he started taking a few things back for himself. It was time to grasp his freedom with both hands and run with it.