Don't own or claim rights to Harry PotterNotes:
Written for the Reviving Severus fest for Severus *sighs*. With thanks to the brilliant Selkie, who is a great advertisement for betas.~~~~~
His eyes widened as the great snake dashed forward, fangs dripping with poison, the dry hush of scales on wood his premature dirge. Nagini launched forward, and … bumped her glistening snout against … nothing?
Nagini pulled back over her coils, and shot through the air again, only to bounce once more off, well, mid-air it appeared. Severus couldn’t be sure, but he rather thought her golden-brown eyes crossed
Severus glanced cautiously at Lord Voldemort, only to find the pale Dark Lord looking as mystified as he felt. He thought, absently, that it was amazing such a featureless person could inject such emotion into his expression as Voldemort scowled at him. He almost felt that he should apologise to his ‘Master’ for the inconvenience of not being dead already.
Nagini began to move about, her strong tongue flicking out, testing the air around him. She hissed malevolently, and began to gently head-butt the air around Severus, never managing to get closer than about a foot from him.
“Severus,” Voldemort hissed, “come here.”
Severus didn’t quite gape at Voldemort, and he managed to keep the ‘Are you serious?’ demand internal, two accomplishments that made him quite proud. He also remained just where he was: Voldemort, after all, kept him for his brains, or near enough. He cleared his throat. “I find I am quite, er, comfortable here, thank you very much.”
“Severus,” Voldemort growled, and sent a summons to his Dark Mark.
Severus knew he’d been summoned, was certain of it, but felt nothing. He even went so far as to examine his wrist to find… “It’s gone!” he whispered harshly. He smoothed pale fingers over his wrist, his clean
wrist. He began to laugh: Nagini had struck already, and he was dying, hallucinating. He looked back at the illusion of the Dark Lord and his familiar. “Tell you what,” Severus smirked, “how about you take your little reptile and bugger off. I am not your man, I was never
your man. You killed the one person I have ever loved, and I have hated you for ever
for that. You thought I was your spy in Dumbledore’s camp? You fool
! I was his
spy from before Lily’s death, ever his man.”
Illusory-Voldemort roared, and shot a killing curse from his wand directly at Severus. Severus, knowing he was dead, didn’t bother dodging, and, much as he expected, the Avada Kedavra
bounced off the invisible boundary protecting him, and he laughed. A second curse was launched, and a third, both bouncing away from Severus, and then Voldemort launched the fourth curse. And Nagini zigged when she really should have zagged, and there was a sudden stunned silence.
Severus stared at the dead snake, then at Voldemort: this was proof positive he was in the middle of a dying hallucination. “Well, I did say you were a fool,” he shrugged.
Voldemort gasped. He sagged, and dropped to his knees, pressing a hand to his chest; if Severus was feeling generous (which he wasn’t) he would have even said ‘to his heart.’ Voldemort curled over, and choked, clawing at his chest, drawing in urgent, harsh breaths. Severus frowned slightly, but let the hallucination play out: if he was going to die, he was at least going to enjoy it.
“My horcruxes,” Voldemort gasped, “I can feel them.”
“Bugger,” Severus ground out. Horcruxes would keep him alive, even in his hallucination.
“One … by … one,” Voldemort panted, “I … can feel … gone…”
“Oh, so much better,” Severus smirked. It was his
hallucination, after all.
Voldemort sprawled on the dusty floor of the Shack, shuddered, and drew in a final, gasping breath before he stilled. Severus looked around, and smiled, satisfied. Nagini dead, Voldemort dead, all the horcruxes gone: very
good. Now all he needed was…
“Harry bloody Potter,” Severus whined. “No! If I’m going to die, I want to see Lily, not James bloody Potter’s bloody son! Damnation and bugger all!”
Harry blinked. “Uh… what are you talking about?” he asked uncertainly.
“I’m dead, Potter,” Severus sneered. “Merlin’s beard, you can’t even get it right in my hallucinations.”
“Um… You’re not dead,” Harry offered tentatively. “You’re alive, which is, um, more than Voldemort can say,” he added, looking around and grinning. “And how did that happen, anyway?”
Severus levered himself to his feet and waved his hand dismissively. “Oh, all his horcruxes went poof all of a sudden, and he died of a heart attack or something.” He peered at Potter as the young man raised a hand to his forehead. “Your scar is gone,” he added curiously.
“Yeah,” Harry nodded, “it hurt like bugg- … ah … it, um, hurt. A lot,” he added.
Severus nodded. “Well, we’d better get on with it. It appears this hallucination isn’t going to end until we do the big presentation, ‘ding dong, the Dark Lord’s dead,’ all that.”
Harry looked at Severus, rather worried. “You’re not…” He shrugged. “Whatever,” he muttered.
“Well, hurry up, Potter,” Severus waved imperiously, “levitate him and let’s get out of here.”
“Yes, Professor,” Harry nodded, moving to cast the Wingardium
spell. He waited for Severus to lead the way, and made sure to keep as much of an eye on him as on the body he was propelling before him.
Things passed fairly quickly after that, and it wasn’t until Severus was standing in the remains of the Great Hall that he finally had to admit that it wasn’t all a death’s door hallucination after all. He looked around to find Minerva and Potter staring at him.
“I am currently feeling quite a fool,” he admitted.
“You are a fool, Severus,” Minerva snapped. “You could
have told me about your arrangement with Albus.”
Severus looked at the witch glaring at him. “I don’t understand.”
“It’s called talking, Severus,” Minerva rolled her eyes. “I had understood you’d mastered that particular technique as a child.”
“I don’t understand what happened,” Severus snapped back at her. “Nagini charged me, was going to kill me, and she bounced
. More than once, I might add, not to mention the several Avadas
He threw at me. I should be dead, Minerva: explain that one to me,” he demanded.
Minerva rocked back on her heels, and cast a careful eye over the wizard before her. Her eyes narrowed, and she reached out to snatch something from the pocket not covered by his open cloak. “Where did you get this?” she demanded coolly, twirling the jade-green clip between her fingers.
Severus frowned. “It was lying on the ground; I saw it as I was walking to meet the Dark Lord. I … it reminded me of, of …”
“Of my mum?” Harry offered gently. “You really did love her, didn’t you?”
Severus plucked the clip from Minerva’s fingers. “Always have, always will,” he agreed sombrely. “What is it?” he asked the witch.
“It is a benefice
,” Minerva smiled. “A gift offered in return for services rendered. I believe Lily may have bestowed this upon you, rather posthumously, in thanks for what you did, ever in the dark, and mainly for her sake. It is a very powerful artefact, Severus, and very rare. It is always protective and cleansing, though I believe you have quite worn it out.”
Severus rolled the clip in his fingers then gently returned it to its original place at his pocket. He smiled, and nodded at the two before him. “Thank you.” He looked around the ruins of the school. “Well, the war is over now.”
“It is,” Minerva nodded in agreement.
“This place is a mess,” Harry observed, wrinkling his nose.
Severus smirked. “Just as well you’re on clean-up duty, then, isn’t it? I, on the other hand, appear to have killed the Dark Lord and his snake, and rather think I’m due a day off. Or ten.” He cocked his head in thought. “Maybe a month,” he mused as he turned to walk away.
“We shall see you tomorrow, then, Severus,” Minerva all but ordered.
Severus hummed thoughtfully as he walked away, rolling his shoulders as metaphorical weights dropped off. He felt he could sleep for a week. Probably wouldn’t, but it felt like it.
It was over.