A/N: Pulled this old one-shot from my old files, written before the Deathly Hallows. Posting here for other to enjoy. The sections in italics denote memories.
Warnings: Deals with character death, references to slash.
Disclaimer: I do not own these characters, or this world. All are the property of JK Rowling.
"NOOOOOOOO!" The bloodcurdling scream ripped through the woods. The Order was running flat out towards it. The final battle was over but in the middle of it, Voldemort had cast an unknown spell and Harry, Voldemort, Lucius Malfoy and Severus Snape had all disappeared in a flash.
It was Harry screaming, Remus was certain of that. He ran faster, the rest of the Order falling behind, unable to keep up with the werewolf. They stumbled on a scene that none of them understood, or would ever forget. Voldemort was dead, a vicious looking dagger was embedded in his chest, the position hinting at a heart wound. Severus was down, covered in blood, being rocked back and forth by a sobbing Harry Potter.
Lucius Malfoy was trying to sooth the distraught teen, stroking his hair and whispering softly to him. His icy eyes flashed to the group that came out of the trees behind Remus Lupin. "Take the boy, he needs to be sedated," he said. "I will tend to Severus' body." There were wet tracks on the pale, proud face but nothing else to hint at an emotional response.
Remus helped Arthur and Charlie peel Harry off of Snape's still body. Remus whispered a spell and the youth collapsed into a deep sleep. "Get him to Poppy, harlie." He told the young man. "No one is to see him until I get there."
"Of course Remus." Charlie nodded and with a pop he and Harry were gone from the clearing.
"He will be given all honors Lucius; you can be assured of that." Remus said to the tall blonde who stood and cast a spell around Severus' body.
"And where were these honors and these praises when he drew breath?" Lucius all but hissed. "I will honor his body, and those few of us that truly took the pains to know him will be there. He never cared for fame in life; he will not care about it now." With a stormy look he dis-apparated, taking what remained of Severus Snape, the Potions master, with him.
Remus stared at the empty space for a long time, and then looked to the still form of the man that had directed the disastrous course of their lives for far too long. "We need to take the body back…and begin the ritual to bind his remains so that he can haunt us no more."
"Yes, we'll do it together." Arthur said. The two wizards attended to the body of the most infamous dark wizard of the age…and together wondered how many lives had been broken on the way to this supposed victory.
The death toll from the final battle was more than a hundred and finally after two weeks it held steady. No one else in St. Mungos or at the Hogwarts infirmary had died. Harry was finally released from the infirmary under his own power. Physically, his wounds were healed, and he was calmer now. His fits of tears had stopped but he never explained them…not to Lupin, nor to anyone else that visited him.
The young wizard walked the halls of the school, and found the silence deafening. There were no children scurrying to class, no laughter…nothing, save the echoing fall of his feet on the floors. Next September the school would reopen, but the older grades would be sparse. There were more than a few of the older students among the dead and permanently maimed.
He paused by a window, that looked out towards the lake, and rested his head on the glass. Harry's heart felt like it had been torn from his chest. He'd watched his best friends fall…broken and bloodied. Then Voldemort had taken the one person he had both hated bitterly…and loved in one fell swoop. Severus. His eyes fell closed. This last year had seen him try his hardest to kill the man with his bare hands, and somehow the emotion had changed.
Two nights before the battle they'd become lovers, and now he had lost him. Forever. "I wasn't worth it…I was ready to die Severus…you were so close to being free." He whispered brokenly.
"He is free now." A quiet voice came from behind him. Lucius Malfoy stood there, as austere and fashionable as ever, but his face betrayed his sadness.
"I suppose he is." Harry straightened and turned, his features schooled into controlled lines. There was something about Lucius that always inspired that in him, a need to be on guard.
"I've come to speak to you, on the matter of Severus' will. Would you walk with me?" He asked.
"Of course Mr. Malfoy." Harry nodded and fell into step with the older wizard.
"Severus was always very…pessimistic. He revised his will the night before the final battle. I was named executor and the reading will be tomorrow at Malfoy Manor, after the funeral, which I am hoping you will attend." He spared a look at the young wizard walking at his side. He could see the pain etched into his face.
"Of course I'll come." Harry said. "I was afraid I had missed it." He said, not entirely sure how he felt about it.
"There are many funerals going on right now…and I think Severus would understand the delay while you recovered." Lucius said. "The service will be held at three in the afternoon at the Manor as his family barred him from their plot, I have allotted him a place in the Malfoy cemetery. Dress code will be very formal." Lucius said.
Harry nodded. "Sir, I just wanted to say how sorry I am, about Draco." He said after a moment. After discovering Lucius' betrayal, Voldemort had taken his rage out on Draco…subjecting him to the Cruciatus Curse and leaving him mindless.
Lucius's face betrayed no emotion but his eyes seemed…darker. "Thank you for your sympathies. He is making some progress; the doctors say they are hopeful." His tone however was not.
"That's good. Once he's allowed visitors, I would like to see him." Harry said.
"Of course, Mr. Potter. I am sure he will be glad of the company." Lucius cracked a small smile. "Unfortunately I must go, I'm needed at the Ministry for a few minor details and then at St. Mungos for Draco's treatment."
"I won't take anymore of your time Sir," Harry nodded.
"I'll expect you tomorrow afternoon." He turned and disappeared around a corner, heading to the entrance hall.
Harry closed his eyes, sinking down the wall and resting his head on his knees. He was of age now; he owed nothing more to any of them. He'd given them everything worth having, his friends, his innocence, and his first love. 'What more can they ask? What more can I give and still have life in me, if there even is any now?' He thought hopelessly.
Tomorrow he would be able to say his goodbyes to a man that had helped mould him. Not with kind words and sterling examples, no Severus had taught him through reprimand, through hate, anger, and raised voices. He'd pricked Harry's passion and made him feel. It didn't matter that at first he'd felt anger and resentment, because once he'd learned to feel, those feelings had grown and changed as he came to know Snape.
He'd seen the impossible balancing act that two great wizards had forced Severus to play, and come to understand that when you were a double agent, no matter what side won you would lose. No one trusted him because they all knew he had to be a consummate liar and a manipulator to stay alive. Harry had come to trust him…and that trust had never been betrayed. He'd saved his life, in more ways than one.
The greatest survivor Harry knew had pushed him out of the way of a vicious curse…and taken it himself. He felt the tears come again as he remembered that moment, looking into those black eyes, the flare of green behind him and then the feel of cold steel being pressed into his hand. A dagger…spelled to always hit its mark. He threw it, and it had taken Voldemort in the heart. His nemesis was finally dead.
For the first time Harry allowed himself to break down. He'd held Severus' bleeding and lifeless body and wept. He'd jumped when he felt Malfoy touch his hair but then relaxed as the blond had tried to comfort him. Harry had let him, had needed that simple act so desperately. Then he'd felt the tears against his forehead as Lucius had cried as well…and Harry hadn't felt so alone. Someone else would miss Severus too.
It was time he did what neither of them had been able to do for the past seventeen years. Live, for the both of them.
The crowd was small, but distinguished. Lucius, Harry and a handful of young witches and wizards, that had respected and valued their acerbic Potions' master for his genius and ultimately his sacrifice, stood around the sculpted monument. It was unique…like he had been. A tree had been formed of black marble, intricately detailed, even down to the veins in each and every leaf. Sitting on a lower branch was a Raven, carved in obsidian, a piece of aconite in its beak, a bit of glistening emerald. Harry felt tears in his eyes at that small touch. He could not have imagined a more fitting monument to mark the resting place of Severus Snape.
"All of us are here because we knew the man that lies beneath us. He touched each of us in a different way. He was my friend, and I never needed to wear a mask for him to accept me. I know each one of you here, has a different reason to remember, and respect him in your own ways. The rest of the wizarding world will remember him for his death, but I will remember his life, as I know each of us will. Thank you for coming. If anyone else would like to say a few words, please do so." Lucius said.
Everyone gathered and said something about how Severus had touched their lives, and as Harry listened, a picture evolved of his lover. He had not just been a teacher; he'd been a mentor, a guardian, and even a protector when it was needed. Other times he had taught a student to enable themselves to solve their own problems. Finally all eyes turned to Harry and he found his throat strangely tight.
"Severus was many things to me. Until this year we alternated between bitter dislike and outright enemies. This year, I truly began to know him through my quest to avenge Albus Dumbledore's death. I wanted to hate him, as was his intent, but through that hate I came to love him. I hope, if nothing else, in his last moments he knew that. I will miss him." Harry said, for the first time unafraid of what others might think. There was no laughter, no shocked draws of breath, just solemn nods and looks of true sympathy.
"I'm sure he did Mr. Potter." Lucius said and touched the young man's shoulder. "Let's all return to the manor. Dinner will be ready shortly and I expect you all to remain the night, among compatriots." The man's voice brooked no argument.
He turned Harry away from the glistening monument and towards the large sprawling manor house. The others followed as well. Lucius had house elves see the others to guest rooms after a quiet, somber meal, but took Harry to his study and settled him down with a glass of fire whiskey, and started a fire in the grate. The young man was dangerously pale, his cheeks wet with tears. Lucius could almost see his broken heart bleeding out through his skin.
"I would gladly take his place." Harry said at length, drinking down the whiskey in one brave toss.
"He didn't want that for you. He loved you as well; perhaps more than you'll ever come to know." Lucius said. "He gave his life so that you might have the chance to live." Lucius said. "He wouldn't want you to die of a broken heart."
Harry let out a breath and closed his eyes, fresh tears coursing down his cheeks. "It hurts so much."
Lucius got up and knelt in front of his chair, putting a hand on his thigh. "I know. It feels like you're bleeding to death and you can't stop it. Every time it eases, someone twists the knife deeper. Look at me Harry." He said gently. The brilliant green eyes opened, shimmering through tears and rimmed in red. "He loved you. Love his memory, hold it tight…but let yourself heal. He would want that."
Harry smiled slightly. "I didn't know what love really was until that moment, and I knew I'd lost him."
"We rarely do." Lucius stood and moved back. "His will is very simple Harry. He left everything, except for half a dozen books, to you. Prince Manor, its lands and all his possessions are yours. There is also a letter for you. Read it when you're ready." He slipped it out of his robes and handed it to Harry.
Harry ran his finger along the slanting sharp script. He smiled a little, imagining Severus writing this. "Thank you." Harry said, not referring to the letter.
"You're welcome, Harry. This is the key to his vault at Gringotts." He handed a small brass key to Harry. "They will be expecting you in the next week, to come and change the paperwork over to you."
Harry took the key and ran his fingers over the well worn brass. "Ok." He whispered.
"Please, call me Lucius. I think we've been through enough to allow that familiarity." He interrupted.
"Lucius, I appreciate your hospitality. I honestly do." He said.
"I must admit a certain amount of curiosity. I wonder what it is about you that made my old friend fall so helplessly in love, and inspire him to give his life for you. Such an act was not in his nature." Lucius admitted to his bewilderment.
Harry smiled slightly. "I think it was and none of us ever really got deep enough to see it." He whispered. "He told me once that he'd never loved anyone, never trusted anyone with that part of himself. Maybe he finally found the one he could trust."
"I'm certain he did." Lucius whispered, taken aback by the maturity of the handsome youth. He had been wounded in a way that many witches and wizards would pine from for decades, and here he sat gathering the ripped remnants of his heart and trying to move one. "Come, I'll take you to your room." He offered Harry a hand.
Harry took it and stood, slipping the letter and key into his robes. "Thank you, Lucius." He said and walked with the older wizard through the still halls of Malfoy Manor. While it was quiet, the walls held warmth, not like the cold solitude of Hogwarts. He was among perhaps not friends, but people that understood without asking. No haunted, questioning eyes followed him here.
"If you'd like to stay for the remainder of the summer as my guest, I would be honored to have you Harry. You should not be alone right now." He said gently, seeing how much more at peace he looked here as opposed to Hogwarts.
"I wouldn't wish to impose Lucius." He demurred out of habit.
"Nonsense. You'll be staying." He smiled slightly and opened the door to the suite Severus had often used. "Make yourself at home Harry, and try to get some rest."
"And you Lucius." Harry said before closing the door. He undressed and fell upon the bed, too tired for anything else. He wrapped himself in the black satin bedding and fell into a deep sleep.
"Foolish Welp." The normally acid tone was softened as he trailed his lips down Harry's throat. He looked down on the exhausted and disheveled youth. "Why did you have to love me…" There was sadness in his tone…a look in his eyes that Harry had missed that night. A look of wanting…wishing things would be different.
Harry sat upright in bed, the memory shattering. He looked out the window discovering it was still dark, the moon only now starting to sink. He pulled a robe on and headed down to the kitchens, he needed something hot to drink.
He was not the only one that need, it seemed. Three others were sitting in the kitchen, hot butter beers in front of them. "Ameline, Tori…Lucius." He nodded to them and sat as a house elf brought him a steaming mug.
"Trouble sleeping?" Lucius asked, already knowing the answer.
Harry nodded. "The memories are too close tonight."
Lucius nodded. "For me as well."
Ameline and Tori were twins. "I just can't believe he's gone. It's not fair." The one girl said quietly, tears on her pale cheeks.
"As he was so fond of saying, life is never fair…and rarely just." Harry said. "The pain will ease with time, just remember him as he was and you'll do him more justice than most." Harry touched the girl's hand.
"Thanks." She said, mustering a small smile. "We're going back to bed now. Goodnight Harry, Lucius." The twins nodded and left the two men alone again.
"That was very kind of you Harry." Lucius said.
"They cared about him; I can afford to be kind." He smiled a little. "He knew he was going to die Lucius. I missed it that night, but it was in his eyes. He was saying goodbye." A tear glimmered in his eyes.
Lucius reached over and cupped Harry's jaw in his hand. "It's all right…" He soothed him even as the youth broke down anew. He moved and sat beside Harry, pulling him into his arms and rocking him. His sobs were heartfelt and wracked his body. They pulled at Lucius's normally stoic heart. He brushed his lips over Harry's temple and his hands caressed his back…letting him cry his soul out into Lucius's chest, soaking his robe.
"I'm sorry." Harry whispered hoarsely once he stilled.
"Sshh….it's fine. Something tells me, however, that you shouldn't be alone tonight." He stood and pulled the young man with him. He needed someone beside him, to keep away the memories and the demons of the night. The young wizard was a study in contradictions, so powerful, and yet so vulnerable. He would protect him, the Slytherin in him already calculating.
Lucius took him upstairs and got them both into bed. He curled around the smaller man and held him. "Just sleep Harry…I'll keep the memories away tonight."
"Is it selfish to not want to remember?" He whispered his voice thick with tears even still.
"No, merely human." He kissed his hair. "Just close your eyes and listen to the ticking of the clock on the mantle; let it draw you into sleep." Slowly the tension seeped from Harry's body and Lucius felt him falling asleep. The boy needed to rest, desperately. They all did.