Not even attempting to hold his wound closed, he choked on blood as he breathed. His black hair now drenched in his own blood clung to his cheekbones like cobwebs. Severus lay alone in the shrieking shack, awaiting the sweet waves of death to wash over him. For so long he had lived in agony with rarely a moment of happiness. Now it would end and he could finally rest. Free from Voldemort, free from his past, and free from war, death in his eyes was a welcomed adventure.
He had many regrets in his life and they seemed to nag at him as any man would be haunted in the moment of their death. But his greatest regret perhaps was that he would be seeing Harry in the afterlife, rather than looking down on him fondly. Severus was prepared for death, knowing full well he wasn't going to make it through the war. But Harry, Harry didn't deserve to die. Not after everything he had done, not after all the things he had seen. The boy deserved happiness far more than any person Severus had ever known. It was with these thoughts that Severus found himself slipping into the darkness.
Severus awoke with a start, his dark robes were replaced with a flowing white tunic and his hair and face were clean and devoid of the blood that had stained them only moments ago. Taking a look around Severus found himself lying in the fields near Cokeworth. He hadn't been there since Lily abandoned his friendship. A stray tear fell from his left eye as he realized everything was a ghostly white. This was where he was to spend his afterlife?
Severus stood up quickly and turned to see none other than James Potter standing there by the tree he and Lily used to play under as children.
"Potter, what are you doing here? Surely I've done enough to garner a peaceful afterlife?"
"Severus… I wanted to thank you."
"Severus raised his brow in question."
"You were always there for my son. Even if all you saw in him was me. For that I am grateful and sorry that I was not a better man. You never deserved what the marauders did to you…what I did to you… please accept my apology."
Severus doubled over in laughter. "I must be dead if the James Potter is apologizing to me."
James grinned and extended his hand to the man before him. Severus shook his head still in wonder at the strangeness of this afterlife, but took the man's hand in his
"I hope that whatever feelings you may harbour for me do not affect Harry any longer."
"I've come to see him as his own man. He looks so much like you, but he is far more like his mother than you."
James chuckled, "He does have her spitfire passion doesn't he?"
Severus smiled, death did wonders for old rivals, "Yes, he does."
James looked firmly at the potions master, "He still needs you. Now more than ever before."
Severus was confused, "Harry is going to die. There is nothing I can do to stop it, and I doubt that even in the afterlife he will ever need me again."
James frowned, "Harry will die. But he will need you when he wakes, and he will need you for his entire life after."
"I don't understand," Severus was worried that James had gone insane in his afterlife.
"Look around Severus, this is not your heaven. This is your limbo, and Harry is in his. I have no doubt that my son will go back to the living, my question is, will you?"