Dawn by Suaine
Author's notes: This piece jumped out at me from a dark corner when I was reading Yolanda’s Snape-fic. It could probably be part of a much bigger story but this scene just needed to be written. Watch out there’s violent!Harry and disturbed!Harry and VoldemortKilling!Harry inside, also starring suicidal!Snape.
After everything is over, the good guys go home with the Cup, so to speak, but some people need to be put back together. At sunrise of the first Voldemort-free day Harry has to make his decisions. Snape is just along for the ride.
Clad in darkness and covered with silence, the shadow of a broken man sat with his legs dangling on the roof of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Two green eyes watched him and the mind behind them hoped for a leap, a jump, a final statement to the world. Just as predators can sense each other, the man's head snapped around and the eyes of Severus Snape met the gaze.
“Come to end it, Potter?” he asked with empty voice.
“Mourning your dead master?” the boy responded.
For an eternity neither said anything, knowing that only one of them might survive the night. Severus Snape, so it seemed to Harry, had gone back to Voldemort and betrayed everyone. He blamed Dumbledore’s death fully on the traitorous snake in front of him. If he didn’t jump soon, Harry thought he might help out a little. His sight was blurred with his own blood and that of the darkest wizard the world had seen in a hundred years, but his emotions raged high enough to blind him even without the red liquid.
Harry’s wand was pointed at the dark, greasy head and his fingers twitched in anticipation of a deadly curse. “Don’t you want to plead and squirm like the rat? Like Wormtail before he got what he deserved?”
A coarse laugh escaped Snape’s thin lips. “So easy. A small step and then there is nothing but air around you. Nothing but air.”
“Defend yourself, you two-faced bastard,” Harry screamed at the top of his lungs. He barely recognized the high-pitched shriek that was his own voice.
Ten seconds ticked away, each melting into the other with cold precision.
Then - as if in slow motion - Harry dropped the hand with his wand. His last strength drained away, and he suddenly felt the cold wind howling around him. For the first time in months he sorely missed a warm embrace. Up on the rooftop of his school, on the highest tower, he was faced with the most difficult decision of his life.
Snape’s eyes conveyed nothing; he was as much a secret to Harry as he had been in his first year. “Why did you sell us out? Did Dumbledore mean so little to you?”
Fury lit up Snape’s eyes. This emotion Harry could read well, it was mirrored in his own eyes when he talked to the professor.
Snape was breathing hard, his arms trembling as he faced the teenaged wizard. “How dare you…”
“What? Tell the truth? He was the only one who believed you were redeemable - and look what it has gotten him.”
For a fleeting moment, Harry thought Snape was going to kill him with his bare hands. There was death in the teacher’s eyes. And then, as sudden as the weather changes in Scotland, the wind stopped raging around them and Snape’s hollow laughter rang out in the half-light of dawn. Maybe he has gone mad after everything that’s happened? Harry thought.
“He got to you, boy. I always knew you were dense enough to fall for it. Your parents are probably turning in their graves.”
At the mention of his parents, a blind rage came over Harry and he struck out at the creature he hated so much. Wands and magic were forgotten, this was going farther back and deeper down than human notions - it was primeval. All his pent up emotions exploded in a flood of blows and kicks. Snape parried the flurry of striking hands as much as he was capable with his tired and exhausted limbs but soon his body failed him. The violent outburst might have killed Snape if the rising sun hadn’t stopped Harry.
He looked at the liquid fire in the sky with an expression of horror and disgust on his face, his hand still clenched into a fist. Snape was beaten badly, but he had still enough strength to sneer at his opponent.
“You feel it, don’t you?”
Harry stared at the bloodied face, realizing that he himself had created the gruesome image. His own hands - hands drenched with blood - had done such great damage.
“Feel what?” It was a mere whisper, though to Harry’s ears it sounded like a shrill plea for… for forgiveness maybe.
Snape coughed, but to Harry it sounded almost like laughter… a loud, booming laughter that would follow him through the rest of his life.
“Voldemort has achieved everything he ever wanted and now… now you have given him the one thing he needed. You have given him an heir.”
Harry’s face turned white, his eyes widening. “I have done no such thing. I killed him!”
Snape’s eyes were as piercing as ever, and he looked at Harry with an emotion the young wizard had not seen before in those dark, menacing orbs. It was sadness.
The anger began to build in Harry again as Snape dragged his body back towards the edge of the roof to look at the beautiful vision of dawn. One push was all the pitiful creature needed… but there was something Harry wanted to know before he ended it.
“How have I given him an heir?”
And the creature that had been Severus Snape smiled.
“Shall I tell you a story, Potter? Once upon a time there was a boy. His mother had died in childbirth leaving him to the cold, dark world and that boy grew up to be a vicious and powerful wizard. A small child was his downfall but the wizard came back to avenge himself. Tell me, Harry, what better revenge is there than to turn one’s enemy into the very thing he despises most - a mirror image of oneself?”
With the clarity of a new day, the images of last night came crashing down on Harry’s unsuspecting conscience, leaving him breathless. He could still smell the blood, the metallic taste in his mouth almost causing him to throw up. Last night he had ended the war - but at what price? Hermione and Ron were severely injured, Dumbledore was dead, and his hands… his hands were stained with the blood of countless Death Eaters.
“I did the right thing!” he argued.
“Don’t we always?”
Harry looked at his trembling hands, caked with blood, and silent tears began to well in his eyes. “I… I had to… he would have killed them, all of them…”
Snape sighed and winced in pain. Harry imagined the pieces of his broken ribs grinding against each other and shuddered. “We make decisions, Harry, and sometimes there is no right way to do it. You did the best you could and we won.”
“But I shouldn’t ha-have… shouldn’t have killed them.”
Harry was about to lose his grip on sanity when he looked into the eyes of the man he had beaten within an inch of death. “Will the stains ever go away?”
Maybe it was the desperation in Harry’s voice that caused Severus Snape to open up to the one student of Hogwarts he disliked above all others. Maybe it was the exhausting events of the night before that made him smile - genuinely smile - at the boy with a scar on his forehead and a blemish on his soul.
“You killed because you didn’t have any other choice. It wasn’t the right thing to do - it was the *only* thing to do. Sometimes we have to do the wrong things for the right reasons…”
“But my reasons weren’t…”
“No, not then.” Snape’s eyes fixed Harry’s with their usual cold hostility. “You will never be innocent again.”
“I know that-“
“I have been where you are now. And there’s not one day I wouldn’t wish things were different… but if I had the choice - if I could go back and do it differently - I don’t think I would.”
A long time passed as the sun rose higher in the sky, shining down on Harry and Snape as they silently stared at each other. The hard feelings and the old enmity, weren’t gone but something else had started to grow between them. It was a mutual fate, a shared destiny that bound them through blood - the blood of others that had been spilled for their cause. Harry had done a terrible thing, a thing that burdened his soul with guilt; but if he hadn’t killed Voldemort, who would have? What would have happened if Harry hadn’t bartered his own immortal soul for the happiness of others?
Harry looked over at the features of his professor. The morning sun eliminated the traces of age and lost innocence on his face, and to Harry it seemed to eradicate the tarnished spots on the man's soul. In the light of a new day, a new beginning, Harry could almost believe the marks would fade in time. Maybe.
When Snape raised his arm, Harry could see the Dark Mark burning, the skin on the edges ablaze with an angry crimson colour. He realized that the scars would never fade, but somehow you learned to live with them. Somehow you learned to accept that in real life there isn’t always a right thing to do.
“We should get down there. Pick up the pieces.”
Snape nodded, and then he almost grinned at Harry. “I think I shall take five points off Gryffindor for the mess you have made down there.”
For a moment Harry was horrified, but then his face split into a tentative smile. “I suppose I deserve it."
“You deserve much more…”
With those words, Professor Snape turned away from the roof’s edge and made his way to the inside of the castle, limping on his left leg and clutching his chest. Harry winced at the sight, and wondered if the professor was talking about punishment, or maybe about something else entirely.