world was doomed.
That was Severus Snape’s
first thought as he stared fixedly at the mysterious, cloth-covered object in
the middle of the sparsely furnished room that currently served as the meeting
place for the Dark Lord’s followers. The room was near the back of an old,
abandoned lumber mill, which had been shut down more than twenty years ago Only the skeletons of rusty saws and broken presses remained
as a mournful tribute to the building’s past life. The Dark Lord had, in the past year, taken complete control and his
shadowy fingerprints were everywhere. A pile of maps rested in one corner,
along with two bookshelves filled with the darkest of Dark Arts tomes. Another
shelf, which ran along one wall, was stocked with an
array of Potions supplies and small dark creatures in aquariums and cages. In
the basement, the occasional chain rattle or groan could be
heard from the prisoners: mostly werewolves whom did not serve the Dark
Lord willingly as men – but served his ends once a month as savage, mindless
The Dark Lord himself was standing
near his latest acquisition, his white, spidery hands trembling as he caressed
the air centimeters above the canvas concealing the object, which was nearly as
tall as he was. Snape did not know what the Dark Lord had obtained, or how, but
the hairs on the back of his neck prickled with unease as he gazed on it.
“At last,” Voldemort purred. “The final piece of the puzzle for ensnaring the Potter brat.
Bella. Rodolphus. Atherton. You have done well. Where, however, is Rabastan?”
“Dead, my Lord,” Bella said, her
voice unusually hoarse. Snape wondered at this, for she never seemed especially
close to her brother-in-law. “He died holding back the Cwn
Annwn at the temple
of Gwyn ap Nudd.”
Snape stiffened in alarm. The Cwn Annwn?
The white demon dogs? Most of the wizarding
world regarded those creatures as nothing more than Celtic legend, or, at most,
extinct animals from a bygone era. Where had they gone, and what devilry had
they brought back?
The Dark Lord merely gave a curt
nod. “The important thing is, you came back with
this.” Again, his hand hovered over the cloth, not quite touching it.
“My Lord,” Avery piped up, his
voice quivering. “What exactly is it? Is it something from Morgana
There was no reply, and Snape
wondered if Avery would pay for speaking out of turn. Their master had been
temperamental of late. However, the Dark Lord only gave a soft hiss of
“Oh no,” Lord Voldemort replied,
as he fixed his gleaming red eyes on Avery. “This is far older and more
powerful than anything Morgana created.”
With that, Lord Voldemort pointed
his wand at the cloth and waved it dramatically to one side. The cloth tumbled
away, revealing a full-length mirror. The Dark Lord stepped back.
“Take care,” he warned, “not to
look directly into the mirror. Not without my permission.”
Snape looked at the forbidding
object with growing unease. The mirror was framed by
an ebony base, on which was carved two winged gargoyles. Their clawed hands
supported the bottom of the mirror and the bat-like wings made up the rest of
the frame. The mirror surface itself looked dark and oily, like a greasy soap
bubble tinted gray. A memory stirred, and Snape shuddered. It looked as if
another myth had surfaced.
“The mirror of Agrona,”
the former Hogwarts Potions master whispered. “But that was only supposed to
“Yes, a legend,” Lord Voldemort
finished, and the corners of his slit mouth turned up in a sneer. “But while
the mirror of Agrona is legendary, it is no myth, for
it is here before us.” The tip of the Dark Lord’s pale finger lightly touched
the wingtip of one of the gargoyles.
There were low murmurings among
the better-read Death Eaters, while the less astute such as Crabbe and Goyle exchanged
“How did you find this?” asked Yaxley in a shaking voice.
Lestrange gave the Death Eaters a cold smile as she lowered her sable hood and
removed her mask. Snape stiffened in surprise, for Bellatrix’s
once raven-black hair was now liberally streaked with
silver, and her face had taken on a cadaverous look.
“We sacrificed much to find the
mirror, in the name of the Dark Lord,” she whispered, her eyes gleaming with a
mixture of pride and contempt.
“But what does it do?” Goyle
Voldemort smiled coldly. “One of
you will have the privilege of experiencing its full powers soon, when we go to
make our final strike at Hogwarts.” His burning red eyes fixed onto Snape’s
“Me, my Lord?”
Snape suddenly felt as if a dementor had sucked the energy from him.
Lestrange gave a cruel chuckle, and the eyes of Rodolphus
and Atherton Nott, who were still masked, gleamed with
a savage joy.
Voldemort nodded. “Yes, you will be the
perfect tool for the mirror, and to bring Harry Potter within my clutches.”
, from the way Bellatrix was gloating over Voldemort’s pronouncement that
whatever the mirror did would kill him.
“Perhaps you will be seeing your
dear Narcissa and Draco, then?” Wormtail
The former Hogwarts Potions master felt his
hands clench, and he glared at the rodent Animagus. But Pettigrew was cringing away from the murderous gaze of Bellatrix Lestrange. While she never lifted a finger or
uttered a word of protest about Narcissa’s judgement in the hands of the Dark Lord, Bellatrix would not hear a word against her youngest
Six months ago, the Dark Lord had
managed to overwhelm Azkaban prison and release his followers, but he had kept
Lucius Malfoy under lock and key. He had been extremely displeased at Draco
Malfoy’s failure to kill Dumbledore and Snape, sensing this, urged Narcissa and Draco to hide. However, they were found only weeks later, and the Dark Lord had Narcissa and Draco killed in front of Lucius Malfoy, who
then joined his wife and son beyond the veil. Technically, the Unbreakable Vow
no longer bound Snape since his mission to kill Dumbledore was complete.
felt that a part of him had died that day.
He had once lived in fear and awe
of the Dark Lord’s power. Now Snape lived in fear that this monstrous creature
masquerading as a man would succeed in taking control over the world. This was
a possibility Snape dreaded. The fact that his fate and the fate of thousands
of others hinged on the cunning and fortitude of a 17-year-old simpleton both
galled him and filled him with despair.
The worst thing of all was that
Snape felt hopeless to do anything about it.
A week later, the Dark Lord gave
the command to attack Hogwarts. Pandemonium reigned as screaming younger
students were ushered by the prefects to the lower levels of the castle, only
to encounter a dementor, a Death Eater, or Fenrir Greyback. The older students joined their professors and
Order members to gamely fight off the hordes of dark
wizards and creatures, their efforts led mostly by Harry Potter and the members
of Dumbledore’s Army.
Snape, who had
been ordered to keep watch on the border of the Forbidden
Forest, swore as he dodged two
spells coming from opposite directions. The early-evening fog and the smoke
from the spell casting made it deucedly difficult to see. Wand raised, he
sprinted through the forest. He spied Colin and Dennis Creevey
just ahead, running towards the lake where several Death Eaters, merfolk and older students were engaged in battle. He
hissed out two “Stupefy” spells, knocking them both out cold. He sneered as
they tumbled to the ground. Stupid prats.
He owed them one for being such Potter lackeys.
He ran further into the forest,
when suddenly Lord Voldemort himself loomed before him. His red eyes were
gleaming in anticipation.
“Severus,” Voldemort hissed. “We
are nearly ready for the final trap. Come with me. Hurry!”
Snape shivered with apprehension
as he followed the Dark Lord deeper into the forest. He barely noticed several
of the Death Eaters patrolling within the Forest. There
were strict orders that Harry Potter – and Potter only – was to pass through.
The consequences of failure, Snape knew, would be death.
Two centaurs spied them and galloped up,
shouting challenges. Voldemort, barely glancing at them, aimed his wand. Black
smoke and purple flame poured from the wand. The centaurs were
incinerated on the spot.
“We are almost there,” Voldemort
They reached a circular clearing
in the forest. Snape looked around. The fallen trees looked as if they had been
recently blown over, and it wasn’t hard to figure out
who had made this unnatural clearing. In the center stood the mirror, again
covered in a canvas cloth, like a shroud. Voldemort pointed his wand at the
covering, and it fell away. Despite the growing darkness, the mirror seemed
illuminated by a sinister green light.
“Now,” Voldemort purred. “Look
inside. Look at your reflection.”
Snape took a steadying breath and
advanced towards the mirror. He paused a moment. “Have you looked into the
mirror, my Lord? What does…?”
“No,” Voldemort cut him off. “That
is not for me to do. Now look!”
Snape clenched his hands in an
effort to hide the fact that he was shaking. It did not fool the Dark Lord,
“Nervous, my servant?”
Snape paused, then
decided the best course would be to answer truthfully. “A
little, my Lord.”
The Dark Lord gave a soft hiss of
laughter as he pointed at the mirror. Snape took another steadying breath as he
walked up to the mirror and looked into the dark, oily reflection and saw…
Snape felt a mixture of relief and
irritation wash over him. It was only his own reflection, not like the horrid
Mirror of Erised, which showed him the things he
longed for and could never have. There was just him in
the mirror, and the trees in the background. Was the Dark Lord playing a joke
on him? Probably not, Snape thought, as he continued to gaze in the mirror. The
Dark Lord was not given to practical jokes. But he was manipulative. So why had he done this?
“My Lord,” Snape said, fighting to
keep the irritation out of his voice. “There seems to be nothing special about
Voldemort bared his teeth in a
wolfish grin. “Be patient, my servant. Look in the mirror. It may take a
moment. Indeed, I think it may be working already.”
Snape continued to stare at his
reflection in the mirror, growing more and more impatient as the seconds ticked
soundlessly by. What was the Dark Lord up to, anyway? Was this another of his
strange games? He grew angrier. Why
, oh why did he fall into the clutches
of a Dark Lord who was nothing more than a domineering, tyrannical threat to
the world? There was no reason for him to have killed Narcissa
and Draco – the Dark Lord merely did it for some perceived slight! Never mind
that Draco – self-absorbed brat that he could be -- was barely of age and that Narcissa, although she was proud and overly doting on her
spoilt child, was innocent of the Death Eater’s ways! Snape’s breath came in quick,
Lord Voldemort laughed softly.
“Good. This is excellent.”
Good? Snape wanted to shout. Good??? I hate
you! I hate you with all my being, with all my blood! Why did I join you in the
first place? What kind of simple-minded fool was I to join you and your ilk? Why?
Almost as if in response, Lord
Voldemort laughed again and seemed to dissolve into the darkening shadows of
the forest. How like him, to leave the scene of battle. Oh yes, milord, he
thought, best leave your minions as the sacrificial lambs, while you, O
Immortal One, run off and live another day! Snape clenched and unclenched his
hands in fury.
A new voice, and
all too familiar. Snape’s eyes narrowed, but he did not look away from
“Potter,” Snape whispered, putting
as much venom in that single word as he could. He remembered why he had joined
the Death Eaters, had joined the Dark Lord. It was Potter or
more specifically, the Potter brat’s father and his ilk. Ah yes, the Mauraders, the bane of his childhood existence.
Turn around and face me, you traitor!”
“So, Potter,” Snape
whispered in fury without breaking his gaze from the mirror. “You think you can
command me? Little fool! You’re every bit as arrogant
as your father was, and every bit as idiotic.”
“I don’t have to listen to your
taunts anymore,” Potter replied bitterly. “Not after what you did.”
“You dare judge me?” Snape
snarled. How like the little fool. But then, everyone
judged him. Potter, his git of a
father, the other Mauraders. His Muggle
father, who never missed an opportunity to give his son a disgusted look. Even Dumbledore judged him, despite his altruistic
speeches. Dumbledore, whom he once trusted, in the end had sent him away on an
impossible mission, had given up on him in the end. It had almost been a
pleasure to off him, a pleasure! He always took the side of the Mauraders,
it was always Snape who received the short end of the straw. The golden boys
could do nothing wrong, even after the Shrieking Shack incident – both
incidents, actually. First with the Mauraders,
then the oh-so-promising bloody second generation of worthless prats and egotistical gits…
Turn and face me!” Snape noticed out of the corner of his eye that Potter’s
wand was raised and pointing threateningly at him. “Or
are you too much a coward still?”
“I AM NOT A COWARD!” Snape
screamed. He didn’t turn from the mirror, though. For
some reason, it captivated him. He felt powerful, looking in this ancient
mirror. Rage coursed through him like lava. No one ever understood him, or even
tried. Why did no one ever try to understand? They saw nothing more than a
skinny, greasy-haired man, a bookish half-blood with a mean streak. They called
him “Snivellus,” they taunted him, they teased him,
and those who should have protected him always turned away. He was always on
“What? Too busy looking at your
greasy reflection to turn and fight me?” Potter hollered.
“Don’t push me, boy! You are
nothing. With a single spell, I could erase you from the face of the earth, and
there would be nothing to even bury!” Snape’s blood boiled and he began to see
red as he realized with crystal clarity how badly he had been
used in his past. It was their fault he had joined the Death Eaters.
Everyone, everyone was to blame, and he hated them.
The bitterness of resentment coated his mouth, but it tasted good. He felt as
if he were standing on a bed of coals, but rather than
flinching away, he found pleasure in the seductive heat of his potent rage.
“Then stop talking and turn
around!” Potter hissed back. “Turn around and fight me! Go ahead, try to defeat
“I don’t have to prove myself to
you!” Snape hurled back. “Worthless boy!” Part of him,
indeed, wanted to turn and exterminate this menace. But
a larger part could not bear to turn from the mirror. The anger, the
bitterness, the fury which welled up in him was like
an addictive drug. He relished his anger and the power he felt reflected back
“You are a coward!” Potter’s mouth
twisted in contempt. “I’ll have nothing to do with the likes of you! Where is
your master, Voldemort?”
“Never say his name, boy!” Snape
felt his insides grow cold, and saw that his face in the reflection had turned
pale. The imbecile! Did he think himself so great as
to not fear the wrath of he who bore that name? The anger ebbed, replaced by
“What?” Potter’s tone became
mocking. “Are you so afraid of him still? Do you still insist on crawling after
him, like the slug you are?”
“I serve him because no one else
ever gave me a chance, and he offered me everything!” The rage had returned,
doubled in ferocity.
“So, you like serving that
monster? You were a traitor all along, then.” Potter shook his head in disgust.
Any retort Snape may have had
stuck in his throat and the fury faded like the tide. What could he say? He
knew the Dark Lord was lurking in the shadows somewhere, but he found that he
could not utter the lie that usually came so easily. But
if he spoke the truth, he was writing his own death warrant. Curse that boy!
Snape stood, frozen in indecision, still staring into the mirror.
Potter merely gave a snort of
derision, and Snape saw him start to walk past when Lord Voldemort appeared
before the boy.
“So, Potter,” Voldemort
purred. Snape sensed, however, that the Dark Lord was angry and disappointed.
He always was, though, he thought angrily. He never could be satisfied, oh no,
not even the blood of Draco and Narcissa sated him…
“Voldemort,” Potter replied. “Or
should I just say Tom?”
Voldemort hissed in anger, and Snape
saw through the reflection that the Dark Lord’s eyes had narrowed into thin
slits. He raised his wand and cast a spell at the boy, who dodged it. “You will
never, ever call me by that Muggle name again, or I will do everything in my
power to make your death as slow and painful as possible. And I possess a good
deal of power, as you will soon see.” Voldemort cast another spell, which
Potter again ducked. The impact of
left a smoking black hole in the dirt.
“Yes,” Potter taunted. “You are so
powerful, Tom, that you have to send your flunkies to do your dirty work, like this traitor, here!”
Lord Voldemort straightened and gave the
boy a wolfish smile. “He killed your precious Dumbledore. So,
why not kill him? Go ahead, I won’t stop you.”
Potter’s jaw dropped, and he
looked at the Dark Lord with the most idiotic expression Snape had ever seen.
“What?” Potter said.
“Go ahead, kill him,” Voldemort
repeated. He stepped back and made a sweeping gesture towards the former
Hogwarts Potions master, who was still rooted before the mirror. “I have no
more use for him, and you hate him. He betrayed you. So go ahead, it’s your
Snape once again felt his anger threatening to erupt like a pent-up volcano. He
was being used as bait to trap the stupid boy, and
this mirror was part of it. Somehow. But why the mirror? The answer eluded him, and his
frustration grew with his anger.
“I would gladly kill him,” Harry
said coldly, “if he would just turn and fight. But I’m not like him – a traitor
and a coward.”
“What does that matter?” Voldemort
cut him off coldly. “No one here would notice or remember your bravery. He is,
as you see, quite helpless.”
Snape’s breath came in harsh gasps
as the full weight of what Voldemort said hit him. Betrayed!
The Dark Lord was betraying him, and to this ignoramus, this persistent thorn in his side! He would
get even, Snape vowed. Somehow, he would exact his revenge on the world,
everything would burn, nothing would hold him back, nothing
was worth saving now. He seethed in terrible – and yet impotent – fury.
“Are you trying to get me to do
your dirty work for you?” Harry said, and he gave a strange laugh. “Why should
I do that? Help you?”
This was clearly not going the way
the Dark Lord intended. His voice was soft, but every word dripped with malice.
“But aren’t you angry? You hate him. You despise him. Isn’t that reason
“No, it isn’t,” Harry said flatly.
“He betrayed us, and willingly, didn’t you?” He turned back to Snape. “Death is
better than you deserve. You deserve to be thrown to the dementors, like you
tried to do with Sirius.”
“You do not understand,” Snape
croaked out. The anger boiling inside him threatened
to consume him, and he felt as if he were struggling to keep his physical form
together. “What he and your father and their friends did to me. You couldn’t understand … just like them. Brats.
Spoiled. Will pay, oh yes, you will! I’ll make you
pay!” He was panting at this time, and the rage he felt started making him feel
“Then turn and fight me!” Harry
challenged. Confusion, even suspicion, replaced some of the hostility of his
earlier tone. “Or is he stopping you from doing that? Who
do you serve? Can’t you even act for yourself?”
The white-hot rage instantly
chilled as Snape found himself once again unable to
“Well?” Voldemort commanded
coldly. “Go on, tell the boy. Whom do you serve?”
That is what he was. Curse that infernal brat! Snape always had a feeling the
boy would be the death of him. Pity Trelawney would never appreciate the
clarity of this precognition.
Voldemort hissed. “I see how it is. It seems you have betrayed more than one
side. But you will not escape from my wrath!” He raised his arms, then brought his wand hand down with a dramatic sweep. “Avada…”
Harry screamed out something then,
and Snape suddenly felt himself flying through the air and landing in a painful
heap several feet away from the mirror, shaken and bruised, but surprisingly
Snape lifted his head and watched as
Voldemort and Potter dueled, exchanging spell after spell until the air around
them was thick with smoke. But even through the haze,
Snape could tell that Potter was losing ground. The former Potions master shook
his head in disgust. Potter was too obvious, not subtle at all in his attacks. And he left himself wide open. The idiot – had he learnt
nothing in his years at Hogwarts? It was a wonder his little army had survived
under such poor leadership.
Suddenly, Snape realized that no
one was watching him. He could escape. Snape turned his head away from the
one-sided duel and looked appraisingly at the dense trees, contemplating his
escape. Yes, he could run off, get away from it all … but how long would he
have before he was caught? If he were caught by an Auror…ah, but that didn’t concern
him. The quality of the Ministry’s protectors had deteriorated since Moody’s
retirement, and most of the present-day team were
incompetent idiots. He would have no trouble overwhelming most of them. Even an
Auror such as Kingsley Shacklebolt,
one of the few with a brain, wouldn’t pose too great a
the Dark Lord caught him… Snape shuddered. He knew his own days would be numbered if the Dark Lord survived this day. He
remembered Regulus, and Karkaroff and the others who
tried to run. And the Dark Lord would certainly win
the way things were going.
Snape watched in contempt as the wizarding world’s ordained hero fell to one knee, coughing
in the smoke. If someone didn’t interfere soon, the
battle would be over with very quickly, and he knew the odds of rescue were
slim. The area surrounding the infernal mirror was closely
patrolled to prevent an untimely interruption. Which
meant there was only one thing to be done.
Shaking a little, Snape quickly sprang
to his feet and and stealthily maneuvered behind the
Dark Lord, who was standing near the mirror. The Dark Lord had both hands
raised and his eyes gleamed with savage glee as he stared down at Potter, who
was struggling to regain his footing.
Snape roared out, and his wand came down in an angry arc.
The Dark Lord screeched in pain
and fury as his dark robes and pale skin were suddenly
slashed, as if a large werewolf had attacked him. Snape darted away as
the Dark Lord half turned to glare at his attacker.
Voldemort hissed in fury. “Avad…”
Snape thought as Potter’s spell missed its intended mark and struck the mirror
instead. Such spells did nothing against the Killing Curse. What…?
Wham! Snape again found himself
thrown several feet in the air by an explosion as the Shield spell bounced off
the mirror and struck the Dark Lord. Snape’s eyes widened in amazement as
white-hot flame erupted around the Dark Lord, who screamed in agony as the fire
started consuming his robes and burning his flesh. With a blue flash, the
The Dark Lord was vulnerable now. Could it be possible?
Snape rose to his feet and aimed
his wand. “Avada Ke…”
Snape seemed to be
pushed to the ground by an invisible hand. Outraged, he turned his head
and saw Potter glaring at him. Then the boy raised his arms and pointed his
wand at the Dark Lord.
boy wonder wants all the credit for himself, Snape thought sourly, fully expecting
the next words to come out of Potter’s mouth to be the words to the Killing
Curse. So he was stunned when Potter uttered a string
of words he had never heard before…and then he heard Phoenix
Snape shuddered in wonder and fear
as a strange light lit the night sky, like a golden aurora borealis. The
Phoenix Song floated around the trees and the strange light swirled around and
around until it took form of a great glowing bird. White flames were its wings,
and its golden eyes looked at the writhing form of the Dark Lord before it
swooped down, adding its own fire and power to the flames surrounding the evil
Voldemort gave a yell of fury and
stretched both arms towards Potter, and he screamed something unintelligible.
Potter looked as if he had been punched in the stomach and
doubled over onto the ground. A dark shadow, like smoke, rose from
Potter and floated towards the Dark Lord. It collided with the fiery phoenix
just as it reached the evil wizard, and the resulting explosion shook the
Snape cowered down and shielded
his eyes from the white flash. The Dark Lord uttered one final, agonized scream
before disappearing. Only a pile of white ash remained.
The forest was suddenly silent.
Snape slowly looked up and watched as Potter walked over to the pile of ash. He
knelt down, scooped both hands through the pale ash, and brought up a small,
lumpy, red and gold object.
Potter whispered. The lump in his hand shook its baby wings and opened its
small yellow beak in a squeak of greeting.
Snape stared in disbelief as Potter rose to his feet, the baby bird cupped in
his hand. Potter then turned in Snape’s direction and regarded him with a cool
look. Slowly, Potter came over to where Snape sat and extended his hand.
Snape narrowed his eyes and as
quickly rose to his feet – without help. He would rather be tortured by the
giant squid then accept assistance from the brat.
“I am quite capable of standing on
my own,” Snape snarled. He was pleased to see the flush of anger burn on the
boy’s pale cheeks.
lipped thinned. “You are ill. The mirror hurt you. You should see a mediwitch.”
“I am fine,” Snape snapped back.
“I do not need you to look after me and I don’t desire your concern over my
welfare. The mirror was a horrid, subtle distraction and I probably have a few
bumps and bruises – mostly because of you! – but
otherwise I am in good health. Now don’t you have an adoring crowd to find?”
Potter gave Snape a strange look.
Then the boy pointed his wand at the ground between them and made a small
series of circles and wavy lines. A large puddle of water appeared between
“Look,” Potter said simply. “Look
at your reflection.”
Snape rolled his eyes but decided
to humor the annoying prat. He peered into the
reflective surface of the water and nearly staggered backwards into a clump of
His hair was almost completely
white, and his sallow skin was liberally crossed with
a network of fine lines. Well, that explained what happened to Bellatrix Lestrange, he thought sourly.
“The mirror,” he muttered. He sat
down heavily, his legs suddenly too wobbly to support him.
“Well, it’s destroyed now,” Potter said.
What a simpleton, Snape thought,
and he shook his head. “No, boy, I highly doubt that it has been destroyed. It
is conceit and delusion to believe that something that was
created before this school was even conceived of could be destroyed by a
simple misdirected spell. I believe it merely returned to its guardians.”
“What was that mirror, anyway?” Potter and Fawkes both looked curiously at Snape, who laughed
“The Mirror of Agrona,”
Snape replied, his voice a whisper. He looked at the pile of ash, which was all
that remained of Voldemort. “She was one of the darkest witches of her age,in the time of Cliodna.
She delighted in spreading chaos and
ruin among the hapless Muggle populace. Somehow, the Dark Lord
found the location of her favorite toy and sent four to go find it. And they did, somehow, but at a high price. One died, and Bellatrix, like me, aged. It is a subtle and dangerous dark
object. I did not realize what was happening, until too late. Even the Dark
Lord feared looking into the mirror.”
“But how did the mirror work?”
Potter asked, frowning.
“Anger,” Snape replied bitterly. “It feeds off
and reflects back anger. Anger is a terrible force, and one Agrona
was apt at harnessing. Anger is a potent weapon, but it can
be used against you as well to aid you The Dark Lord used my anger
against me. I suspect that he tried to use your anger toward me to ensnare you
before the mirror as well. If I had lingered in front of its sinister
reflection for much longer, I
, too may have perished.”
Snape gave Potter a disgusted look. “But
what are you waiting for? Go, go claim your glory and
your accolades for single-handedly killing the Dark Lord.”
Potter’s eyes narrowed,
and his haggard face again flushed with anger. For the first time, Snape was struck with how old, how careworn the boy looked.
“I had to stop you,” Potter said.
“The Killing Curse would not have worked on him. It might have robbed him of a
body, but he still had one Horcrux left.” He pointed
at his scar. “We would have been back at square one.”
Horcruxes. Snape might have
known the reason for the Dark Lord’s immortality…or, near-immortality. “And the
spell you did use?”
“The Phoenix Song
Incantation. It was a risk, because I didn’t
know for sure it would work. Voldemort had to feel threatened enough to call
for the last existing piece of his soul. This spell was our best chance.”
“How did you find it? I have never
heard of this particular spell,” Snape admitted with great reluctance.
Potter shrugged and almost smiled.
“Hermione,” he replied simply.
Of course. “Well, Potter,” he said, putting all the
menace he could in his tone, “you better decide quickly whether to turn me in
or not. I will not go easily. I have no desire to spend the rest of my life in
Azkaban and I know better than to expect mercy from the Ministry.”
looked at Potter, then at Snape, and gave a comforting, encouraging chirp.
Potter looked down, startled, at the tiny creature in his hand, then he nodded. The indecision left his face as his green
eyes met Snape’s black ones.
said simply. "I can stall them for a little while. There will be chaos
once Voldemort's death is announced.”
help shuddering at that name. “Why?”
“Because it is the right thing to
do,” Potter said. “It is what Dumbledore would have wanted, and it's what Fawkes wants.” He looked down at the baby bird, who gave a
chirp of agreement. “But you better hurry. If they catch you, there will be a
trial, and I don’t have Dumbledore’s powers of
persuasion. You'll go to Azkaban this time if you're caught.” Potter gave Snape
a tired, bitter look.
Shouting, and movement through the
trees, made them both turn.
said, his tone flat. “They will be here in a few moments.”
Snape looked at Potter for a
second longer, then, with sure, long strides, made his way deeper into the
woods. Very soon, he was lost in the shadows of the night, the boy no longer in
No, he could not stay here, not in
Snape thought as he felt the wards and charms from the school fall away. He would be hunted for the rest of his natural life. But, for the first time since his school days, Snape felt
free and he knew why.
There would be no Dark Lord
anymore. He would never return to haunt him. Besides, what was Great
Britain anyway? The world was a wide place,
vast and easy to hide in. His step grew lighter as he thought of where he could
go, of the places he was now free to visit in a Voldemort-free world.
he decided at last. He had always wanted to visit the jungles, study the dark
creatures, and learn magic there. Ever since his uncle had told him stories
about the place as a boy, he had wanted to go. Now, he could.
Snape continued forming his plans
as he disappeared in the woods, never to be heard from
or seen again.
Notes: The title
– indeed the whole story – was inspired by “The Two Trees,” a poem by William
Butler Yeats, which was set to music by the talented Loreena
McKennitt. One verse goes:
more in the bitter glass
demons, with their subtle guile,
before us when they pass,
Or only gaze a
there a fatal image grows
stormy night receives,
half hidden under snows,
boughs and blackened leaves…”
There also was a saying by the
late Ann Landers, who was fond of stating (and I am paraphrasing here) that
anger was a poison to those who held it inside themselves.
Agrona, the white dogs and others beings are references out of
Welsh myth and legend. I take some liberties for this story.