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Another World

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Another world VII.II: The Elder Wand, with an alternative ending

By Ratwoman

Ratwoman02@yahoo.de



1st July 1997



Lily waited patiently on the clearing in the forest near the town she had grown up in. It was one of the secret places where she had met Severus in their youth. Although her parents had been very proud of having a witch in their family, they had never approved of her friendship with the boy from Spinner’s End.



Lily drew her wand when a cloaked figure Apparated a few feet away from her, right under their favourite beech tree.



"Morning Lily," Severus said laconically.



"Sev," Lily ran towards him and hugged him. She had been quite worried about him. "How are you?"



"Fine," he said. "You’re going to move the Longbottom boy two weeks prior to his birthday?"



Lily’s eyes widened: "How do you know?"



"Legilimens," he said. "Read it in Mundungus Fletcher’s mind a few days ago."



Lily breathed out in relief. For a moment she had thought there was a traitor. "I suppose you won’t tell Volde..."



"I will," Severus said.



She looked at him in surprise.



"But you’ll take precautions," he continued. "You know how to brew Polyjuice Potion?"



Lily nodded.



"There will be seven Neville Longbottoms starting from his grandmother’s place. Six of you will take Polyjuice, seven other members of the Order will bring them to safe places. Seven safe places."



Lily slowly nodded. "Good plan."



"Don’t even tell me where you’re taking the real Neville Longbottom," Severus said.



"I understand," Lily replied earnestly.



Severus hesitated for a moment, then he asked: "How is Sirius?"



"Last time I saw him, he was yelling and breaking furniture," Lily answered.



**



16th of July

Sirius was not yelling any longer about Snape’s betrayal. Instead he used to fantasize about what he would do to him if he ever got his hands on him.



What if he ever met him in a dark side street, for example? First, he would disarm him with an Expelliarmus. Then he’d close the distance with a few quick steps and punch Snape in the face, hard. He’d grab his wand-arm then, pull it behind his back, quickly... There would be a crunching noise when the bones would break.



Sirius then would push him against the wall, face to the stones. Snape, of course, would fight back, but Sirius was stronger. A few hard hits, a few kicks, and Snape would hold still. Then Sirius would start ripping his clothes off his body. Not with magic, it would be much more humiliating for Snape if he used Muggle methods.



Severus would struggle again, but with one arm broken, the other held tight behind his back, it was no use. Sirius would soon have him naked, pressed against the wall, his buttocks shining temptingly in the moonlight. Sirius would free his own cock and then slam in. No lubrication for Snape this time. "I thought you like it rough, bitch!" he’d hiss when he’d hear Severus scream...





"Master Sirius," Sirius opened his eyes to see Kreacher standing before him. "Master told Kreacher to alert him at five pm. Kreacher doesn’t like to, but he has to follow Master Sirius’s orders... It is five p.m..."



"Go back to the kitchen, Kreacher," Sirius said, slightly irritated. It was time to meet the others... He rose from the couch he had been sitting on, noticed with shame that he’d become hard during his day-dream.



Fantasising about rape didn’t mean he would do it, Sirius told himself. His fantasies were just a normal reaction to being cheated on like that. No, it didn’t mean...



Other members of the Order of the Phoenix would arrive soon, then they’d go to collect Neville from his grandmother’s house. Augusta Longbottom should be in safety by now – two Aurors had been sent to take her to a hiding place.



**



Severus waited with the others in the shadows. Soon seven Nevilles would leave... at least, if they had taken up "Lily’s" idea.



He saw 13 people setting down in front of Augusta Longbottom’s old house. One of them rode a flying motor-bike. Severus swallowed. His throat suddenly felt constricted. A while later seven members of the Order and seven Neville Longbottoms left the house, rising into the air on broomsticks and the motorbike.



Quickly the Death Eaters divided the seven Longbottoms between them. Severus and some others followed Lupin and, well, whoever it was who had taken Longbottom’s shape. Severus kept close watch over his fellow Death Eaters. No one was to reach the boy... there, one of them raised his wand and pointed it directly at Lupin’s back.



No, not Remus! "Sectumsempra!" Severus shouted, aiming for the Death Eater’s hand. A sharp wind blew, and the Death Eater ahead of him was shoved aside by it. The spell missed and... dammit!



Severus heard the Longbottom double scream when the side of his head was hit. A severed ear flew past Snape. Dammit! That really had not been his intention!



**



After a short visit at his cousin Andromeda’s, Sirius and Neville used a Portkey to reach the Burrow. His motorbike was crashed but Neville – the real one – was unhurt.



Remus was already there, and Tonks, Lily, Harry and Hermione...



George Weasley was missing. And Remus was looking as if the end of the world was nigh (well, for all they knew, it was...)



"Where is George?" Sirius asked alarmedly.



"In the house," Remus answered. "Mrs. Weasley is taking care of him. He lost an ear."



"An ear?" Sirius asked.



"Snape's work," Remus replied darkly.



Well, maybe he would indeed torture him if he ever caught him alone. "Are you sure?" Sirius asked.



Remus nodded sadly. "He lost his hood during the chase. Sectumsempra was always a specialty of Snape's. I wish I could say I'd paid him back in kind, but it was all I could do to keep George on the broom after he was injured, he was losing so much blood."



**



Bill’s and Fleur’s wedding



"Don’t make such a face," Remus said. "You’re on a wedding."



Sirius shook his head. "Sorry," he murmured.



"You’ve been thinking of him, haven’t you?" Remus said compassionately.



"Yes," Sirius said, "actually I’ve been thinking of biting out his treacherous tongue."



Tonks, who was standing next to Remus, stared at him with a shocked look on her face. Remus smirked and shook his head. "What a gruesome picture... But I understand your anger. It’s so weird, I actually had thought the two of you were good for each other... He’s been less bitter since you were together."



"All lies..." Sirius said darkly. "I think what was so convincing about it, was that he never really was friendly to me. Just the same snarky bastard."



Remus nodded. "Oaths of love would have sounded strange coming from him. I wonder about his Patronus, though."



Sirius frowned. Snape’s Patronus was a dog. It made no sense.



"Maybe he started out with you on Voldemort’s orders but then fell in love with you," Remus said. "That would explain why he was so astonished about the new form of his Patronus."



Sirius shook his head. He didn’t want to believe that Snape had actually felt something for him. It was easier to demonize him. "But he killed Albus," he said.



"Yes, he killed Albus," Remus replied quietly. Tonks was looking sadly to the floor.



Then suddenly a silver lynx appeared, soaring through the roof and landing on the floor. The dancers froze in Midaction, staring astonished at the Patronus: "The Ministry has fallen!" it said with Kingsley’s deep voice. "Scrimgeour is dead! They’ll be here any second!"



Sirius looked around in alarm. People were panicking, screaming and crashing into each other.

Dark hooded figures appeared on the dance floor. Sirius, Remus and Tonks drew their wands, shouting "Protego!"



Where was Harry? There, with Hermione and Neville... Sirius saw how they reached Ron and then Disapparated. Very good... Sirius would stay until most wedding guests were safe, then he’d Disapparate, as well.



**



"Ah, there you are!" Sirius said when he entered his house at Grimmauld Place a few days later and found Harry, Neville, Ron and Hermione there. "But you know that Grimmauld Place is not safe anymore? When Albus, the secret keeper, died, we all became secret keepers which makes the spell somewhat weaker..."



"We won’t stay forever," Neville replied.



"Dinner is ready, Master Neville," a voice Sirius knew all to well said. Kreacher. But what had happened? The house-elf was cleaned up, wearing a smooth white pillowcase. And he was looking at the youths like he had always looked at Sirius’s mother or his brother.



"What have you done to my house-elf?" Sirius asked.



"We were friendly to him," Hermione said in a high-pitched, strangely arrogant voice.

Kreacher glared darkly at Sirius.



Harry cleared his throat in obvious embarrassement. "Why don’t you sit down for Dinner with us and we’ll tell you what Kreacher told us..."



**



Sirius listened silently to what Harry told him. Neville had gone with Dumbledore last summer to a cave in order to retrieve Slytherin’s locket. They wouldn’t explain why, but it was of vital importance in the war against Voldemort, as he had turned it into a magical artifact. Instead of Slytherin’s locket they had found a fake locket and a note from a mysterious RAB that he would destroy the real one. Right, RAB, Regulus Arcturus Black. Voldemort had "borrowed" Kreacher to get the locket into the cave and left him to die, but Kreacher had survived and come back to Regulus. Regulus then had stolen the locket and exchanged it for a fake one. His brother had died doing it. Neville had given Kreacher Regulus’s locket in exchange for the real one, promising to destroy it as Regulus had ordered Kreacher to do.



Regulus. Sirius felt sad, but also proud to hear the story of his brother’s death. He had died a hero, not a Death Eater.



**



September 1997



Severus was looking down at the students in the hall. They were silent, which was unusual for Hogwarts. Unusual was also that he was sitting in the Headmaster’s chair.



It was a chilly atmosphere, the teachers were avoiding to look at him. Except for Alecto and Amycus Carrow, but Severus would rather do without them. Voldemort had ordered him to give them the vacant positions at Hogwarts.



Severus stood up, cleared his throat and started his welcoming speech. He told the students that they were facing difficult times, that they probably had heard false rumors, that for their own safety it was best if they followed the rules... Severus carefully chose his words to make them sound as if he supported Voldemort but still would give them fair warnings... He did not want any of the students to take a risk while the Carrows were around.



He also introduced the Carrows as new teachers, reminding the students to follow their orders "so that no one needs to receive punishment."



Severus sat down and the feast started. Now murmuring sounds of the students filled the hall, while at the staff table there still was an icy silence. Severus picked at his food, but didn’t feel hungry.



**



Later in his office, Phineas Black walked back into his portrait. "Stupid children..." he murmured angrily.



"Hm?" Severus made. Phineas had already told him that Neville Longbottom and his friends currently were at the House of Black.



"I was going to have a look at Grimmauld Place... But all I saw was the inside of a handbag!" Phineas said. "That mudblood girl must have put me into her handbag."



"You can call her anything from a nag to a pain in the arse, but don’t call her a mudblood." Severus replied mildly. "Anyway, I’m glad to hear they are going to take you along when they leave."



Phineas murmured something about how disgraceful it was to be stuffed into a handbag, then sat down on his chair and glowered.



"How is Sirius?" Severus asked.



"My queer great-grandson is alive, as far as I know," Phineas replied.



**



A few months had passed since the beginning of the term. More and more Death Eaters had tried to find Grimmauld Place, so Neville and his friends had left. Sirius had left, too, after telling Kreacher to go to Hogwarts and work in the kitchen there. He had also forbidden Kreacher to talk to Snape or any other Death Eater, though it probably was not neccessary. Kreacher seemed to be quite fond of Neville Longbottom.



Currently Sirius, Lily, James, Remus and Tonks, who was very advanced in pregnancy, were hiding in a small house in a village in Wales. No one knew where the "Chosen one" and his friends were, but as long as there were no news about his capture, they were probably alive and well. Sirius had already told James and Lily that Dumbledore had obviously sent the boy on a secret mission before he died.



A propos secret... Sirius was to secretly meet Minerva in Aberforth’s pub this afternoon. She reported every once in a while back to them what was happening at Hogwarts.



"See ya, James, Lily!" Sirius called and Disapparated. He Apparated, cloaked and hooded, in front of Aberforth’s pub. The old wizard quickly shoved him inside and then in a back room, looking disgruntled.



Minerva was sitting on a chair and smiled when she saw him. "Sirius! So good to see you..."

She then told him a few things that had happened. Obviously Ginny and Luna, who were leading a kind of resistance organisation called Dumbledore’s Army, had tried to steal the sword of Gryffindor from Snape’s office, because they knew that Albus had left it to Neville.

"Unfortunately Snape caught them," she said bitterly.



"Oh no," Sirius said with a sense of foreboding, "what did he do to them?"



"Sent them into the Forbidden Forest," she said angrily, "for a whole night. At least Hagrid was with them."



Sirius blinked. "That’s all?" he asked.



McGonagall looked at him in confusion. "Isn’t that enough?"



Sirius shook his head. "Minerva, we did that for fun when we were their age!"



She really looked surprised now.



"I mean, not only James, Remus and I. Snape was very fond of the Forbidden Forest himself. On our nightly wanderings there we had to be careful not to bump into him."



Minerva stared at him. "It was forbidden to go there..."



"Yeah," Sirius laughed, "as if a ban doesn’t make it all the more interesting. But..." he frowned slightly, "why did Severus punish Ginny and Luna with something he himself wouldn’t consider hard?"



"I really don’t know," Minerva said, "but I must admit that he doesn’t display as much sadism as the Carrows..."



Minerva left shortly afterwards through a secret passageway leading from Aberforth’s pub to Hogwarts. Sirius left through the front door and wanted to Disapparate when he heard a harsh voice call: "You! Take your hood down so I can see your face!"



Dammit! Sirius quickly reached for his wand, but the Death Eater saw the suspicious motion and called "Petrificus Totalus!"



Sirius fell hard to the ground, arms and legs clapping together. The Death Eater knelt down and pushed back his hood. "Well well, who do we have here? Sirius Black!"



**



Severus felt rather bored when Alecto called upon him, telling him that she really must show him something. Had she thought up a new torture method? Severus followed her into a room in the East tower. Her brother was standing guard, grinning broadly.



Severus opened the door, went in, and halted in his steps. They had Sirius.



He was bound to a chair, hair ruffled. Sirius looked up and his eyes narrowed. "Snape!" he spat.



Severus forced himself to smile ironically. "Did you miss me?" he purred. Then he started to slowly walk towards Sirius.



**



Sirius felt a knot of fear forming in his stomach. The Carrows had caught and bound him, and now they had called Snape. Snape who was coming towards him with a lecherous smile on his lips. To his horror, Snape sat down on his lap, straddling his hips, and passed a hand through Sirius’s hair. Sirius tried to jerk away, but Snape just laughed softly.



"Keep your hands off me, you freak!" Sirius snarled.



"Out!" Snape said. Sirius was bewildered, but Snape turned his head to look at the Death Eaters standing behind him with leering faces. "OUT!" he repeated, louder. With visible disappointment they obliged.



When they had gone, Severus Snape pointed his wand at the door. As he didn’t say anything he obviously spell-locked, maybe also silenced the room with nonverbal spells.



With foreboding Sirius waited for what was to come. Was this the punishment for the rape fantasies he used to have about Snape lately? Would Snape now rape him?



Snape turned back to him, framed Sirius’s face with his hands and whispered: "You stupid Gryffindor, why did you come to Hogsmeade? How shall I ever get you out of here alive?"



What? Sirius stared at Snape in incomprehension. Snape leaned his forehead against Sirius’s and closed his eyes, face screwed up as if he was thinking hard. After a minute or so he opened his eyes again, looking intensely at Sirius. "Well, I disposed of the ropes binding you, because how shall I get to your bottom if you’re tied to a chair? My plan was to immobilise you with a spell, but you were quicker and attacked me. I’m not used to attacks the Muggle way, so you took me by surprise." What the fuck was Snape talking about? "After you have beaten me unconscious, you opened the window, got yourself a school broom with a summoning charm, and flew away."



Sirius just stared at Snape.



"Do you understand?" Snape said. "Or is your undersized brain incapable of comprehending the rescue plan?"



"Why are you doing this?" Sirius asked.



Snape stood up, pointing his wand at Sirius. The ropes binding him vanished.



"Now, beat me," Snape said, letting his wand sink.



Sirius hesitated.



"They won’t believe it if you don’t beat the hell out of me," Snape said with a hint of impatience.



Sirius made a fist and punched Snape into the face. Strange, how it suddenly seemed so hard to beat Severus, even though he had been dreaming to be brutally violent against him for months.



Snape stumbled back a step, then looked disgustedly at Sirius. "Is that all you can offer?" he spat. "Come on, I killed Albus!"



Sirius hit him again, harder this time. Snape tumbled, and Sirius hit him a third time. Severus fell to the floor. He half sat up, fingering his bleeding nose. "That’s not enough," he said, "I’m still conscious."



"Obviously," Sirius answered, crouching down next to Snape. He raised his fist but hesitated again. Why was Severus helping him to escape?



Severus sneered. "Oh come on, Black, I betrayed everyone, I lied to you and Lily..."



Sirius punched him again. Blood was flying through the air, a few drops hitting the floor next to him.



"I never really liked Lupin!" Snape snarled, "and you were just a good fuck!"



Sirius beat him again, really hard this time, hitting his chin. Severus sunk to the floor, finally unconscious.



Sirius wiped his bloody fist at his robes, then looked at the man on the floor. Snape’s face was blood-smeared, and he’d probably be bruised tomorrow. With a sigh Sirius reached out his hand and gently touched Snape’s cheek. "Yes, I missed you," he whispered.



Sirius stood up. They had left his wand on a table. Sirius took it, then walked towards the window and opened it. "Accio broom!"



A schoolbroom flew towards him and landed in his outstretched hand. Sirius cast one last glance at the unconscious man on the floor, then mounted the broom and flew to freedom.



**



Sirius entered the small house in Wales. Lily, James, Remus and Tonks were already waiting, looking relieved when he came in.



"Where have you been?" James asked.



"Been captured by Death Eaters," Sirius said. Instantly they all drew their wands and pointed them at him.



"How do we know you’re not an Impostor?" James snarled.



"Well, would I say that I was captured if I really was a Death Eater? – All right, ask me something..."



"What was your favourite Muggle band at the age of 17?"



"Pink Floyd. We don’t need no education..."



"Alright," James lowered his wand. The others did the same.



"How did you escape?" Remus asked.



"Actually, Snape let me go," Sirius said.



"No way!" James called. Remus, Lily and Tonks looked only mildly surprised.



Sirius sat down on the shabby old couch in the living room. They had rented the house including furniture. "They took me into a room in the East Tower and Snape told the Carrows to leave us alone. I thought, Snape was goint to ... to rape me – in fact, he made it look like that was his intention."



James glared darkly at the floor.



"But then he untied me and told me to beat him unconscious, so that the Carrows would think I escaped because he became careless," Sirius said.



"Are you sure?" James pitched in. "Sure that he really wanted you to..."



"Well, yes," Sirius replied, "he quite spurred me on to beat him up..."



"Lucky you," James said, smirking.



"Anyway," Sirius continued, "I opened the window, summoned a broom and flew away."



James frowned. "Why should he let you escape?"



"I wondered about that, too," Sirius said, "and I came to an interesting conclusion."



They all looked curiously at him, especially Lily. "He didn’t really kill Albus," Sirius said, "he never changed sides..."



"But Padfoot," James interrupted, "Neville was there, he saw it..."



"I’m sure they made it look like that," Sirius replied. He had reckoned with the fact that James would believe his theory to be bullshit. "But Albus must have found a way to fake his own death. And Severus was in on the plan. So Albus is probably hiding somewhere and Sev is reporting back to him."



Lily was looking thoughtfully at him. Sirius felt elated. He knew, Lily would be easiest to be convinced. But then she said: "You were there on the funeral. He is dead, Sirius."



"No, he’s not!" Sirius shouted. "It all makes sense now, Snape’s strange behaviour today, his dog-shaped Patronus..."



Remus looked embarrassed: "I think it is not so complicated Sirius. Snape is a Death Eater and a traitor. But he is also in love with you, that is why he set you free."



"You mean even Death Eaters can fall in love with the wrong people?" James asked thoughtfully. "Sorry, Padfoot, but that makes much more sense than the Albus-is-alive theory."



**



Lily usually kept her promises. But not today.



Yes, she had promised Severus and Albus not to tell anyone about their plan. But Sirius was close to the truth anyway...



After half an hour of arguing with James and Remus, Sirius had retired to his bedroom. Lily now was standing in front of his door. James thought she was in the bathroom. She’d have to be quick...



Lily drew a deep breath and opened the door. It was a shabby, spartan room, not really fitting Sirius. He was lying on the bed, staring darkly at the ceiling. "Go away!" he snarled.



"No," Lily said, closed and spell-locked the door behind her. Then she used the Muffliato to make sure no one could listen to them.



Sirius sat up, looking slightly bemused. "Why such secrecy, Lily?"



"Because I promised not to tell anyone what I know," she said. "Not even you, actually."



Sirius raised an eyebrow at her. Lily sat down on a chair. "Albus is dead," she said, "and Severus killed him." Then she looked straight at Sirius. "Because Albus ordered him to do so."

Sirius looked puzzled. "Why..."



"He was dying," Lily said, "he had caught himself a deadly curse that would kill him within a year. You remember how dead and blackened Dumbledore’s hand looked last year?"



Sirius nodded his head, comprehension dawning on his face.



"He knew that you-know-who had ordered the Malfoy boy to kill him. To rescue Draco Malfoy, Albus ordered Severus to do it instead."



Sirius drew a deep breath. "And Severus agreed to do it?"



"Unwillingly, yes," Lily said.



Sirius gazed sharply at her. "How come you know about it?"



"Severus insisted on me knowing about it..." she said.



"Did he?" Sirius asked, angrily. "And why did he not inform me?"



Lily had expected that Sirius would react like that. She sighed. "He said, he’s worried that you’re not good at pretending, and if he informed you, you had to pretend to hate him... He said he was not sure whether you’d manage that."



"Thanks a lot," Sirius snarled angrily. He stood up and paced the room for a few moments. "So," he finally said. "When this is all over, I really get to tell him off!"



Lily smirked. "Do that. But before, be careful not to let anyone show what you know, or you will bring him into grave danger."



Sirius nodded earnestly. "I hope they won’t punish him too hard for letting me escape."



**



"Crucio!" Lord Voldemort yelled.



Severus doubled over in pain. Agony washed through his body in waves, seemingly never-ending pain. But it did end. Severus looked up. The Dark Lord was furious. He had called Severus to the Malfoys’ house as soon as he had heard about his failure.



"Black escaped you? How could that happen?" he hissed. Bellatrix was standing behind the Lord, her eyes shining.



"I was stupid, Milord. Careless," Severus said, bowing his head.



"Explain!" the Dark Lord ordered.



"I... actually I wanted... to rape him," Severus pretended to be deeply embarrassed about it. "Of course I couldn’t do that as long as he was tied to a chair... so I untied him..." Lord Voldemort was staring impatiently at him so Severus hurried to add: "I wanted to use a binding spell on him, but he was so fast... He attacked me, beat me up..." His face was still bruised so it sounded believable.



Suddenly Voldemort started laughing. "You’re lucky that he didn’t kill you, Severus!" Then he turned to Bellatrix. "You may play now, but no longer than 15 minutes." With a mad smile she stepped forward.



"Thank you, Master," Severus said humbly and braced himself for the pain.



**



Severus was in the headmaster's study talking to Dumbledore’s portrait as Phineas Nigellus came hurrying into his frame.



"Headmaster! They are camping in the Forest of Dean! The Mudblood..."



"Do not use that word!" Severus interrupted.



"...the Granger girl, then, mentioned the place as she opened her bag and I heard her!"



"Good. Very good!" called the portrait of Albus Dumbledore. "Now, Severus, the sword! Do not forget that it must be taken under conditions of need and valor - and he must not know that you give it! If Voldemort should read Neville's mind and see you acting for him..."



"I know," Severus said, slightly impatient. He wasn’t a school boy Albus had to explain everything to... Though as always he held the essentials hidden. After he had retrieved the sword of Gryffindor from a cavity hidden behind Dumbledore’s portrait, he said: "And you still aren't going to tell me why it's so important to give Longbottom the sword?"



"No, I don't think so," said Dumbledore's portrait. "He will know what to do with it. And Severus, be very careful, they may not take kindly to your appearance after George Weasley's mishap.."



Putting on his traveling cloak, Severus interrupted coolly: "Don't worry, Dumbledore. I have a plan..."



**



Harry woke up bathed in sweat. He had just dreamed that they had found Ron, lying dead in the snow... what a terrible nightmare. Ron had run out on them just two days ago.



Harry changed his pajamas but felt he couldn’t sleep any longer. Wrapped in his blanket he walked towards the tent-door where Neville was keeping watch.



Neville looked at him with surprise. "It’s not your turn yet..."



"Can’t sleep," Harry said and sat down next to Neville.



"Worried about Ron?" Neville asked.



Harry nodded his head. "Can’t believe that he broke with us..."



"I guess he already regrets it," Neville said.



"But why did he run out on us in the first place?" Harry asked miserably. Ron was his best friend!



Neville looked thoughtfully into the snow. "He always was competing with his brothers. But how can you compete with the twins, with Bill and Charlie? So he always felt inferior to them. And then we: I, the boy who lived, you, Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch Team, and Hermione brilliant at almost everything. We knew he always felt he couldn’t match with us, and then the fight with Hermione... guess it was too much for him."



Harry looked thoughtfully at Neville. It was hard to believe that he was the same person as the shy, insecure boy he had met almost seven years ago. It seemed like the terror he’d gone through had made him grow up prematurely.



"Did you know that the prophecy could also have referred to you?" Neville suddenly asked.



"No," Harry asked surprised. "Why...?"



"It was referring to a boy born at the end of July whose parents had defied Him already three times." Neville said. "HE actually wanted to kill you first, but Dumbledore told me, Snape warned him that he knew where your parents are hiding. When the Dark Lord didn’t find you at Godric’s Hollow, he tried to kill me instead."



Harry stared at Neville. So it was rather coincidence that Neville was The Boy Who Lived. "Then I guess I was the one who’s lucky," Harry said hoarsely.



Neville smirked slightly. "Not your fault. And I should have listened to you, where Snape was concerned. I actually had started thinking he had a good heart hidden underneath the mask of sarcasm..." Neville picked up the Copy of Advanced Potions Making he had been reading while keeping watch. "I find Snape's book useful, though. Did you know that a beozar helps against most poisons?... Wait, what is that?"



Harry looked to where Neville was pointing. A silver glow was coming from the trees. It seemed as if the light was coming closer.



Harry and Neville both stood up, drawing their wands. Then "it" came out from beneath the trees, a silver light in the form of a big dog.



"Sirius!" Harry called. "That’s Sirius’s Patronus!" Harry started running towards it. The dog turned around and walked back into the forest.



"Wait!" Neville called behind him, "it could be a trap!" But Harry didn’t listen.



**



Severus watched from behind some bushes as his Patronus walked towards the lake. Harry Potter was following him close by, and a bit behind Neville Longbottom. They probably thought it was Sirius’s Patronus...



Severus let his Patronus vanish when they had reached the lake he had plunged the sword in. Neville Longbottom and Harry were discussing, then Neville got out of his clothes and walked into the lake, while Harry waited on the outside. Neville dived down and didn’t reappear for one minute, two...



Severus saw a movement at the trees and drew his wand. Oh, only the Weasley boy. Ron Weasley stepped out of the trees, Harry was shouting something then hugged Weasley.

The Longbottom boy still had not come back.



Ron and Harry seemed to realise the same and jumped into the water, fully clothed. A short while afterwards they reappeared, Ron Weasley dragging Neville Longbottom towards the shore, Harry with the sword and a necklace Neville had been wearing earlier.



Severus waited until he saw Neville Longbottom coming back to his senses, then Disapparated.



**



Severus waited at their old meeting place in the clearing. There, Lily Apparated, wearing a green cloak. Lily quickly stepped towards him and hugged him. Severus held her close for a moment, then took a step back.



"They are going to kidnap Ginny Weasley from the train at the beginning of the Easter Holidays," Severus said.



Lily nodded slowly. "We’ll take precautions."



"I’ve seen your son a few weeks ago," Severus said. Lily looked up, interested. The green of her eyes perfectly matched her cloak. "He was in the forest of Dean, with Longbottom, Ron Weasley... I guess they moved by now."



"Did they see you?" Lily asked, slightly alarmed.



Severus smirked. "Fortunately not!"



Lily looked at him earnestly. "I broke my promise," she said.



What?



"He should be here any second..." Another cloaked and hooded figure Apparated. He shoved off his hood, showing raven hair and a handsome face. But even if he had not taken off the hood Severus would have recognized him by his graceful movements when he walked towards him.



Lily took a step aside so that Sirius could stand right before Severus.



SLAP! Severus was backhanded, hard, pain spreading on his cheek.



"That’s for not informing me about Dumbledore’s plan!" Sirius snarled. Then he grabbed Severus by the back of his head, pulled him close. Their lips met, a tongue felt its way in, probing gently.

Sirius broke the kiss. "And that’s for saving my life," he said.



Severus stared into his blue eyes. His heartbeat was accelerating... certainly just because of the surprise... Severus pulled Sirius close, kissed him back. Dimly he noticed that Lily Disapparated discreetly.



**



May 2nd, 1998



"Really, dear, you should stay with our son," Remus said for the umpteenth time.



"He’s safe with my parents," Tonks replied once again.



Remus looked at James, searching for help, but James only shrugged. He had given up on trying to convince Lily to stay behind long ago; she’d go into danger with a straight face, no fear shown. Maybe that was why he loved her so.



"Let’s go," Sirius said and they all Disapparated.



They Apparated straight into Aberforth’s pub. They were not the first, and he was a bit disgruntled, complaining that his pub was not a train station. Anyway, they went through the tunnel into Hogwarts...



Good old Hogwarts... though James doubted that it was still the same place now that Snape reigned over it. He hated Snape more than ever before... he had not only murdered Dumbledore, he had also hurt his beloved wife and his best friend.



They reached the Room of Requirement. Loads of students from Gryffindor, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were there. And Harry.



"Mum!" he called, hugging Lily. Boy, how he had changed! His hair long, his clothes raggish...



"Dad!" Harry saw him now, and James closed his arms around his son. He had become so thin...



Lily’s eyes scanned the room. "Where is Neville?" she asked.



"We needed to find out something, there might be a clue in the Ravenclaw Common Room." Harry said, "So he went there with Luna and my Invisibility Cloak... mum, where are you going?!"



Lily stormed out of the room. "Lily!" James called and followed. He dimly noticed that Sirius did the same.



What was she thinking? What if they met Snape or the Carrows? Well, actually they would be three against three, and James didn’t think highly of the Carrows’ dueling abilities. As for Snape, it would only be fitting if the three of them finished him off.



They were not even close to the Ravenclaw Common Room when James heard fighting noises. When James turned a corner, he saw Snape. He was fighting against Professor McGonagall, Professor Sprout and Professor Flitwick. While sending a suit of armor flying against his attackers, Snape’s eyes briefly locked with Lily’s: "Tell him, Lily!" he shouted, then he hurtled through a classroom door. Minerva and the others followed and, moments later, he heard McGonagall cry, "Coward! COWARD!”



James rushed after Sirius and Lily. Then he saw Neville and Luna, taking off the Invisibility Cloak.



"What’s happened, what’s happened?” asked Luna.



Professors McGonagall, Flitwick, and Sprout were standing at a smashed window.



"He jumped,” said Professor McGonagall.



"You mean he’s dead?” Neville sprinted to the window, ignoring Flitwick’s and Sprout’s yells of shock at his sudden appearance. Then they looked in equal surprise at James, Sirius and Lily.



"No, he’s not dead,” said McGonagall bitterly. "Unlike Dumbledore, he was still carrying a wand…and he seems to have learned a few tricks from his master.”



James looked out of the window. In the distance he saw a huge, batlike shape flying through the darkness toward the perimeter wall.



Minerva looked at Lily. "What did he mean when he shouted "Tell him, Lily"?"



Lily and Sirius looked at each other, nodded, then Lily took a deep breath: "Do you remember, the year before Albus died, his right hand looked blackened and dead."



Minerva nodded. "He said it was an aftereffect of his fight against You-Know-Who..."



"Well, not exactly," Lily said, "he had caught himself a deadly curse that would kill him within a year. Only that he asked Severus to do it instead to protect the poor Malfoy boy who had been ordered to kill Albus."



James stared at Lily. "That doesn’t make any sense..."



"Oh, it does," Sirius said, "it just makes me angry that he did not tell me until early spring..."



There were heavy footfalls behind them: Slughorn had entered the room.



"Neville!” he panted, massaging his immense chest beneath his emerald-green silk pajamas. "My dear boy…what a surprise…Minerva, do please explain…Severus…what…?”



"Our headmaster is taking a short break,” said Professor McGonagall, pointing at the Snape-shaped hole in the window. "Lily Potter and Sirius Black say he still is on our side, which I can hardly believe considering how he treated the students all year..."



"Oh, he wasn’t that bad," Luna suddenly said, "we were more afraid of the Carrows. If Snape caught us, the punishment was only something like going to the Forbidden Forest, which was quite a laugh."



Minerva still looked full of doubt at Lily. Lily didn’t seem to be disturbed by it, just gazed at Neville Longbottom. "I’ve got to talk to you alone, Neville," she said.



Minerva looked sternly at her. "I won’t let you alone with the Chosen One as long as I’m insecure about your loyalties..."



James took a step forward. "Doubt Snape’s loyalties as much as you like, but never doubt my wife!"



Neville looked thoughtfully at Lily. "Come!" he finally said and before Minerva could protest he added: "I make my own decisions."



**



Neville looked curiously at Mrs. Potter when they had entered an empty classroom and she closed the door behind them. Was it true what she had said about Snape? What else was she going to tell him?



Then she conjured up a flask and put her wand at her temple. She drew out two streams of silver light, like threads, and put them into the flask.



She held it to Neville. "Go to the Headmaster’s study." she said, "the password is Dumbledore. You will find a Pensieve there..."



Neville hesitated, then took the flask. Mrs. Potter looked at him with a pained expression. Was the thing she wanted to tell him so terrible that she rather would show him her memories instead of spelling it out?



Neville nodded, put on Harry’s Invisibility Coat and left the room.



It was true, "Dumbledore" was the correct password. It seemed odd, why should Snape use as a password the name of the person he had murdered? Except if Lily Potter was right...



Neville walked up the steps, opened the door. The frames of the pictures at the wall were all empty. Neville went to the pensieve, put in Mrs Potter’s Memories and dove in.



Mrs Potter was sitting in Dumbledore’s office; he was still alive. Snape was sitting in a chair, staring darkly into thin air.



Dumbledore told Lily Potter about the curse that would kill him within a year, and that he had asked Snape to do it instead. So it was true!



Mrs Potter was protesting, because everyone would hate Snape then.



"It’s not as if I ever was very popular," Snape interrupted.



The memory blurred and another evening with the same people came into view. Snape looked rather upset. And Dumbledore said "Neville must not know, not until the last moment, not until it is necessary, otherwise how could he have the strength to do what must be done?”



"But what must he do?” Snape asked.



"That is between Neville and me. Now listen closely, Severus, Lily. There will come a time - after my death - do not argue, do not interrupt! There will come a time when Lord Voldemort will seem to fear for the life of his snake.”



"For Nagini?” Both Snape and Mrs Potter looked surprised.



"Precisely. If there comes a time when Lord Voldemort stops sending that snake forth to do his bidding, but keeps it safe beside him under magical protection, then, I think, it will be safe to tell Neville.”



"Tell him what?”



Dumbledore took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "Tell him that on the night Lord Voldemort tried to kill him, when his mother cast her own life between them as a shield, the Killing Curse rebounded upon Lord Voldemort, and a fragment of Voldemort’s soul was blasted apart from the whole, and latched itself onto the only living soul left in that collapsing building. Part of Lord Voldemort lives inside Neville, and it is that which gives him the power to speak with snakes, and a connection with Lord Voldemort’s mind that he has never understood. And while that fragment of soul, unmissed by Voldemort, remains attached to and protected by Neville, Lord Voldemort cannot die.”



Mrs Potter sharply inhaled. Snape asked blankly: "So the boy…the boy must die?”



Neville hardly could believe his ears.



"And Voldemort himself must do it, Severus. That is essential."



"No!" Mrs. Potter called outraged.



Snape looked disturbedly at Dumbledore. "Why have I been protecting the boy all these years?"



"We have protected him because it has been essential to teach him, to raise him, to let him try his strength,” said Dumbledore, his eyes still tight shut. "Meanwhile, the connection between them grows ever stronger, a parasitic growth."



Mrs Potter stared at him, obviously speechlees. Severus seemed horrified, too: "You have kept him alive so that he can die at the right moment?”



"Don’t be shocked, Severus. How many men and women have you watched die?”



"Lately, only those whom I could not save,” Severus said. He stood up. "You have used me.”



"Meaning?”



"I have spied for you and lied for you, put myself in mortal danger for you. Everything was supposed to be to keep the Boy Who Lived safe. Now you tell me you have been raising him like a pig for slaughter..."



Lily Potter, looking compassionate, slowly raised and put a hand on Snape’s arm. "It’s horrid, but I’m sure if Albus saw another way..."



"Then what?" Snape hissed.



She looked earnestly at him. "Then he’d save Neville Longbottom’s life. And he wouldn’t ask as much of you if he could."



Snape sat down again, staring darkly into thin air.



Neville emerged from the Pensieve, suddenly feeling very hollow. So he had to die in order for those he loved to survive?



**



Harry was staring desperately at Fred’s dead body. He, Hermione and Ron had already destroyed the Cup of Gryffindor, and then the diadem of Ravenclaw had been destroyed by Crabbe’s fiend fire. In which Crabbe himself had died... Nagini was the only Horcrux left.



The battle of Hogwarts was already underway. Where was Neville? He had seen him earlier, but he had appeared withdrawn, thoughtful, and had been looking at Ginny as if he expected it to be the last time he saw her.



Harry ducked and fended off another Death Eater’s curse.



**



Neville jumped when a big black dog came out of the bushes. He was near the Whomping Willow. The dog turned into a man. "Here you are!" Sirius Black said. "I was worried about you!"



"Don’t worry, I’m not running away," Neville said, wondering how much Snape and Lily had told him. Did he know that he must die? Probably not...



"I’ve got to see where he is," Neville said, "there’s a connection between our minds..."



"Be careful," Sirius said, looking worried.



Neville nodded and closes his eyes....



**



Lucius had told him the Lord wanted to see him in the Shrieking Shack. Voldemort kept Nagini in a kind of magical cage floating in the air. It was time to tell Longbottom... maybe Lily had already done so... He had to focus his mind...



"…my Lord, their resistance is crumbling..." Severus said, trying to convince the Dark Lord to send him back into battle.



"...and it is doing so without your help,” said Voldemort in his high, clear voice. "Skilled wizard though you are, Severus, I do not think you will make much difference now. We are almost there…almost.”



"Let me find the boy. Let me bring you Longbottom. I know I can find him, my Lord. Please.” He must find Neville and tell him... just in case Lily had not done so yet.



Voldemort stood up. "I have a problem, Severus,” said Voldemort softly.



"My Lord?” said Severus.



Voldemort raised the Elder Wand. "Why doesn’t it work for me, Severus?”



Why should I care, Severus thought. "My.. my Lord?” said Snape blankly. "I do not understand. You have performed extraordinary magic with that wand.”



"No,” said Voldemort darkly. "I have performed my usual magic. I am extraordinary, but this wand…no. It has not revealed the wonders it has promised. I feel no difference between this wand and the one I procured from Ollivander all those years ago.”



Voldemort started to move around the room, speaking in that measured voice that could mean as much danger as when he was furious. "I have thought long and hard, Severus…Do you know why I have called you back from the battle?”



"No, my Lord, but I beg you will let me return. Let me find Longbottom.” He’d better get out of here...



"You sound like Lucius. Neither of you understands Longbottom as I do. He does not need finding. He will come to me. I know his weakness, you see, his one great flaw. He will hate watching the others struck down around him, knowing that it is for him that it happens. He will want to stop it at any cost. He will come.”



"But my Lord, he might be killed accidentally by one other than yourself..."



"My instructions to my Death Eaters have been perfectly clear. Capture Longbottom. Kill his friends - the more, the better - but do not kill him.

But it is of you that I wished to speak, Severus, not Neville Longbottom. You have been very valuable to me. Very valuable.”



Why did it sound as if something dreadful would follow? "My Lord knows I seek only to serve him. But let me go and find the boy, my Lord. Let me bring him to you. I know I can..."



"I have told you, no!” said Voldemort, a hint of impatience in his voice "My concern at the moment, Severus, is what will happen when I finally meet the boy!"



If we’re lucky, you both die! Severus thought. "My Lord, there can be no questions, surely...?”



"... but there is a question, Severus. There is.” Voldemort halted, sliding the Elder Wand through his white fingers and staring at him.



"Why did both the wands I have used fail when directed at Neville Longbottom?”



"I cannot answer that, my Lord.”



"Can’t you?”



Great, Voldemort had become suspicious. At least, it was almost over; the final battle was raging outside. And maybe Lily had already...



"My wand of yew did everything of which I asked it, Severus, except to kill Neville Longbottom. Twice it failed. Ollivander told me under torture of the twin cores, told me to take another’s wand. I did so, but Lucius’s wand shattered upon meeting Longbottom’s. I sought a third wand, Severus. The Elder Wand, the Wand of Destiny, the Deathstick. I took it from its previous master. I took it from the grave of Albus Dumbledore.”



Don’t let him look into your head, Severus reminded himself.



"All this long night, on the brink of victory, I have sat here,” said Voldemort, his voice barely louder than a whisper, "wondering, wondering, why the Elder Wand refuses to be what it ought to be, refuses to perform as legend says it must perform for its rightful owner … and I think I have the answer.”



Yeah, the answer was that he was not the rightful owner.



"Perhaps you already know it? You are a clever man, after all, Severus. You have been a good and faithful servant, and I regret what must happen."



Severus knew then, the Dark Lord was intending to kill him. "My Lord ..." but he was interrupted.



"The Elder Wand cannot serve me properly, Severus, because I am not its true master. The Elder Wand belongs to the wizard who killed its last owner. You killed Albus Dumbledore. While you live, Severus, the Elder Wand cannot be truly mine.”



"My Lord!” Severus protested, raising his wand. But what spell could defy the Dark Lord?



"It cannot be any other way,” said Voldemort. "I must master the wand, Severus. Master the wand, and I master Longbottom at last.”



And Voldemort swiped the air with the Elder Wand.



At first nothing happened, but then Voldemort’s intention became clear. The snake’s cage was rolling through the air, so fast, so quick, and suddenly it had encased Severus, head and shoulders.



Severus heard Voldemort hiss something, then the huge snake opened his mouth and sank its fangs into his neck.



Severus felt his knees give way and fell to the floor. There was pain pulsating from the wound in his neck.



"I regret it,” he heard Voldemort say coldly. Shortly afterwards, he heard the door open and close.



**



Neville opened his eyes. He looked at Sirius. How should he explain to him what he had just seen?



"We’ve got to go to the Shrieking Shack" he said.



"Why?" Sirius asked.



"You’ll see," Neville said. His throat felt as if there was a huge lump inside. Neville ran towards the Whomping Willow, Sirius following. He hoped it wasn’t too late...



They reached the Shrieking Shack shortly afterwards and just before they entered the room where Snape was dying Neville turned to Sirius. "Severus Snape is in there," he said, "Nagini bit him."



Sirius’s eyes widened in alarm and he pushed Neville aside, going into the room. Neville saw him kneeling down next to Snape.



"Sev!" Sirius said in a tear-chocked voice.



Snape half sat up, very pale. He looked first at Sirius, then past him. "Longbottom!" he croaked. "You... must... know..."



Neville nodded. "Lily Potter told me what I’ve got to do."



Relief washed over Snape’s face. Neville crouched down next to them, searching his pocket... there it was.



**



Sirius cradled Severus’s frail body in his arm. Nagini had bitten Severus’s neck, right through the carotid artery. The poison would spread quickly through his body... But the Neville held out his outstretched hand to him. What was he holding there, a stone?

“He must swallow that!” Neville said.

Sirius took it and put it into Severus's mouth. Severus swallowed it quickly, then his body convulsed like it great pain.

Sirius stared confusedly at Neville. “What did you give to him?”

“A beozar,” the boy said. “It helps against most poisons.”

Snape groaned in pain, then suddenly he looked up, his eyes clear. “How did you know about beozars?”

Neville smirked. “From the Half-Blood Prince's copy of Advanced Potion Making.”

Snape sat up, still shaking, but obviously feeling better.

Neville raised and said: “I must go now...”

“Wait, we come, too!” Sirius said, wanting to stand up, too, but Snape held him back.

“No,” Snape said, “it's essential that he faces him alone.” Turning to Neville, Severus added: “I'm sorry.”

Neville nodded. “I know,” he said and left the room.

**



So many people had died... Fred, Remus, Tonks...



Was it over now? He left the Castle with others. Voldemort and the Death Eaters approached from the forest, along with Hagrid, who was carrying Neville in his arms.



Neville? Was he dead?



Harry listened dumbly to the cries around him. McGonagall screamed "NO!", Ron and Hermione joined in.



Had they lost?



Voldemort silenced them all, offered them mercy if they gave up. Then he said that he had killed Neville Longbottom when he had tried to sneak away.



That was a lie! Neville would never have run away, more likely he had tried to face Voldemort alone! With anger racing through his veins, Harry broke the spell that had petrified him, walked towards Voldemort, wand raised.



Well, if the boy who lived was dead, then maybe Harry was the only one left who could finish off Voldemort. But first he had to kill Nagini, who was curled around Voldemorts shoulders.



With a flick of his wand, Voldemort disarmed him, laughing coldly.



"It’s Harry Potter," Bellatrix shrieked next to him. "The Auror’s son!"



Voldemort looked at him with cold red eyes. "Not quite a Pure-Blood, the Potter boy. But you show spirit, and bravery. You will make a very valuable Death Eater. We need your kind, Harry Potter."



Harry stared at him, pure rage burning in his veins. "Never!" he pressed out through clenched teeth.



"Then you will set an example of what happens to those who oppose the Dark Lord!" Voldemort hissed and held him with a full body-bind. Then the Sorting Hat flew through a window in the Castle and into Voldemort’s hand.



"There will be no more sortings at Hogwarts School." Voldemort said. "There will be no more houses. The emblem, shield and colours of my noble ancestor, Salazar Slytherin, will suffice for everyone, won’t they, Harry Potter."



Then Voldemort put the Sorting Hat onto Harry’s head and it burst into flames. Harry screamed but he couldn’t move. He would burn to death here and now... Oh help, please, anyone...



There were noises around and suddenly Harry could move again. And there was something hard in the Hat. Harry threw it off and pulled out a huge sword – the Sword of Gryffindor!



With a yell of rage he jumped forward and swung the weapon. Nagini’s head was severed right off.



"NO!" Voldemort roared and threw a curse at him. It bounced off an invisible shield. Who had cast it? No matter... "I’ll kill you!" Harry roared, raising his sword, about to attack Voldemort.

He just laughed at him and Harry ran against an invisible shield. Harry looked around for the first time. Grawp was fighting the giants, and there were Thestrals – now he could also see them -, Buckbeak and the Centaurs had joined in, attacking Death Eaters. More wizards stormed the battlefield, but also more Death Eaters. Harry saw Voldemort and Bellatrix enter the Castle and followed them.



He almost burst out laughing when he entered the Great Hall. The house elves were storming the battlefield, with Kreacher taking the lead. "For Regulus Black!" he yelled.



Sirius grinned at him. "I never thought I’d say that, Kreacher, but you’re great!"



Next to Sirius Snape was standing... Rumours said, Snape had been on their side all the time, which didn't really make any sense to Harry. He scanned the hall, then joined James, McGonagall and Lily, who were dueling Voldemort. Voldemort held them at bay easily and Harry was about to join them when he saw that Ginny was almost hit by a Killing Curse by Bellatrix Lestrange. But before he could react, Mrs Weasley stormed towards her, screaming: "NOT MY DAUGHTER, YOU BITCH!"



Harry watched transfixed as the two women fought. Minutes went by. Bellatrix was a bit too sure of herself; in a moment she laughed she was hit by a deadly curse by Mrs. Weasley.



"NO!" Voldemort roared.



Harry turned around to fight him, but suddenly Neville Longbottom pulled off his Invisibility Coat and threw it at Harry. "Thanks for lending it to me, Harry!" he called.



But... then he was alive!



"I don’t want anyone to try to help!" Neville said loudly. "It’s got to be him and me."



Harry took a step back. How had Neville survived?



Neville and Voldemort were circling each other, shouting taunts at first. Neville explained that by being ready to die for everyone he had put a shield charm on them – that was why none of Voldemort’s spells were really binding today.



That would explain how Harry had been able to free himself from the body-bind.

Neville said he knew things, powers Voldemort didn’t.



"Is it love again?" said Voldemort. "Dumbledore’s favourite solution, which he claimed conquered death, though love did not stop him falling from the tower and breaking like an old waxwork? Love, which did not prevent me stamping out your parents like cockroaches... I brought about the death of Albus Dumbledore!"



"You thought you did,” Neville said, "but you were wrong.”



What, was he alive?



"Dumbledore is dead!” Voldemort hurled the words at Neville. "His body decays in the marble tomb in the grounds of this castle. I have seen it, Longbottom, and he will not return!”



"Yes, Dumbledore’s dead,” Neville said, "but you didn’t have him killed. He arranged his own death months before, with the man you thought was your truest servant.”



"What childish dream is this?” said Voldemort, but still he did not strike, and his red eyes did not waver from Neville’s.



Lily made a derisive noise. Voldemort’s eyes flickered towards her insecurely. In a mocking gesture she crossed her arms.



"Severus Snape was on Dumbledore’s side," Neville said. "I think from the moment you started to hunt for Lily Potter, weren't you, Severus?”



Snape stepped forward with a sneer.



“But I killed you!” Voldemort shouted.

 

“Almost,” Severus said. “And I killed Dumbledore because he asked me to do it.”



"It matters not!” shrieked Voldemort, then laughed madly. "It matters not whether Snape was mine or Dumbledore’s, or what petty obstacles they tried to put in my path! He will pay for it later!” Voldemort glared at Snape, his eyes full of menace. “He may have been the Master of the Elder Wand, but even if Snape did not die, I won against him, so now the Wand of Destiny is truly mine! Dumbledore’s last plan went wrong, Neville Longbottom!”



"In a way it did,” Neville agreed. "But Dumbledore’s last plan hasn’t backfired on me at all. It’s backfired on you.”



Voldemort’s hand was trembling on the Elder Wand, and Neville raised the wand he had taken from Draco when they’d been imprisoned at Malfoy Manor. "That wand still isn’t working properly for you because Severus Snape was not the true master of the Elder Wand. He never defeated Dumbledore.”



"He killed..."



"Dumbledore’s death was planned between them!" Neville interrupted with an uncharacteristic air of impatience, "Dumbledore intended to die undefeated, the wand’s last true master! If all had gone as planned, the wand’s power would have died with him! – However,” he said, "as it is, Draco Malfoy disarmed Dumbledore and that made him the true master of the Elder Wand..."



Harry’s head turned towards Draco. He was standing at the wall, listening in awe.



"...until I disarmed Draco Malfoy!" Neville finished.



Neville and Voldemort both raised their wands.



"Avada Kedavra!" Voldemort shouted.



"Expelliarmus!" Neville yelled.



A jet of green light and a jet of red light met in the middle of the circle they had formed. Voldemort’s wand flew high into the air, then towards Neville. Neville had never been good at catching anything and ducked not to get hit by the wand. It didn’t really matter: Voldemort’s curse backfired on him and he sunk dead to the ground, hit by his own Killing Curse.



**



Harry was surrounded by girls admiring him. It was not really unusual for him, as the Captain of the Gryffindor Quidditch team. Now they were rather admiring him for his bravery in the fight and he had to retell again and again how he had killed Nagini.



Suddenly Luna was at his side. "Can I borrow your Invisibility Cloak?" she whispered.



"What for?" he whispered back. The girls were looking rather jealous at Luna for whispering with Harry Potter.



"I think Neville needs some quiet," Luna whispered.



Harry gazed at Neville, who was surrounded by people wanting to congratulate him.



"How is he supposed to slip under the Cloak?" Harry whispered as he gave it to her.



"I’ll think of something," she replied.



Briefly afterwards he heard her yell "Oh look, a Blibbering Humdinger!"



With a smile he watched Neville hiding under the cloak while everyone around him was looking into the direction Luna was pointing.



Luna might not be as pretty as Ginny, but she had such a good heart.



**



It was like a deja vu. Severus was standing at court for his trial. The judge, a stern looking woman, was reading his charch: being a Death Eater, a murderer, Voldemorts right hand.



This time, it was not Dumbledore, who was speaking on his behalf, but Neville Longbottom. The Chosen One told them the truth in a long story. This time, the jury was listening with awe-struck faces. Why did it sound so wrong to him each time he was praised as a hero?



Severus was not surprised this time when he was acquitted. The Chosen One was on his side, after all. He left the courtroom as a free man, surrounded by members of the Order of the Phoenix – Sirius, Lily, James, Neville, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna... All were congratulating him. It was quite confusing, actually.



They went to Aberforth’s pub together, as Sirius wanted to celebrate. As usually on parties, Snape was keeping quiet, silently watching the others. Neville Longbottom was giving autographs to people in the pub, Ginny Weasley was staring at him in admiration. Neville didn't really seem to like his publicity. Harry Potter was talking to that weird girl Luna Lovegood... Not a bad choice, Severus thought.



Suddenly James Potter sat down next to Severus. “You know, I will probably never really like you, Severus,” he said.



Severus smirked. “Why should I care?” he said.



“Yeah, it's because of remarks like that,” James replied, but he was looking rather amused. “Anyway, you're braver than all of us. I just wanted to tell you.” With these words James raised and went over to Aberforth to order another butterbeer.



Severus stared after him in surprise. Maybe he cared after all, because this remark of James made him feel just good.



THE END