I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant,
Severus hurried past the battle, dodging spells and seeking to hide from one and all. He'd been summoned by his master to the Shrieking Shack, and the nervous throbbing of the pulse in his throat threatened to cut off his breath. He concentrated on keeping the Disillusionment Charm active. The Dark Lord would not accept injury, or even death, as an excuse for missing this meeting.
As he passed by the shouting and hexing wizards and witches, he strove to predict what the Dark Lord had on his mind. Glancing about the battlefield that was once the peaceful grounds of Hogwarts, he was dismayed not to spot Potter. He would die before delivering him to the Dark Lord, but what else could the evil wizard want now? He must have known Severus would better serve fighting against those of the Order, but the stinging pain on his left arm had been urgent.
He neared the Whomping Willow and used his wand to tickle the spot which allowed him access to the hidden entrance to the tunnel. He slowed his forward movement slightly as he walked down the long passageway, not wishing to appear breathless before Voldemort. Mentally taking a count of the fallen wizards and witches he'd seen on his way in, he hoped the numbers would put the Dark Lord in better spirits. This was the worst time to have to deal with a frustrated, angry Dark wizard.
He entered the Shack, dropping his Disillusionment Charm when he saw that the cause for the war was directly in front of him. He was sitting at the end of the table, looking calm. Severus knew that look to be deceiving, and he glanced up to see Nagini coiled up, resting in an enchanted cage, seemingly unsupported by anything, and right above the table. He glanced back at the Dark Lord, and as he moved to kneel to him, Voldemort raised his bloodless hand to stop him.
"It's the wand, Severus," he said. "I believe I finally reasoned out why it doesn't work properly for me."
"But, my lord, you've done extraordinary things with it. How can you not say it works properly?"
"It works like any ordinary wand, and I am the extraordinary factor in it all. But do you know why the wand doesn't work for me?"
It's because you're not the rightful owner, you idiot. Severus schooled his features to show nothing of his thoughts. There was only one way for the Dark Lord to become the rightful owner, and as Severus--Dumbledore's murderer--was that current owner, no good could come of this meeting.
Severus locked his knees to keep them from shaking, and forced himself to look directly into the lusterless, maniacal eyes of his erstwhile master. He knew it might be the last thing he would see in life, and mentally braced himself for the attack.
It came from above, and he looked up, horrified, to see Nagini in her enchanted cage swooping down upon him. He felt the unutterable pain as her fangs sank into his flesh, felt his life force begin to ebb from his body. He felt the floor coming up to meet him, and he fell, spent, what little energy he had left causing his body to tremble. His vision was hazy as he watched Voldemort walk away from the room, his murderous serpent encaged and floating behind him.
His hands ineffectually tried to stop the flow of blood, but even as he flailed about, he knew it was useless. No one could survive a bite from the vilest serpent ever to live. His eyes drifted upward, staring at nothing, until suddenly, Harry Potter's face appeared before him. Not wasting his thoughts on wondering how this was so, he grasped with bloody hands at Potter's robes, pulling him closer.
His voice gurgled out on his last breaths. "Take...it...Take...it..."
Granger, bless her always-industrious mind, had conjured a flask with which Potter began collecting the silvery-blue memories that seeped out of Snape. When he pulled the flask away, stoppering it, Snape struggled to speak again.
"Look..at...me..." The last thing he saw was a copy of the eyes he'd loved all his life. Then his own eyes glazed over, and the hand gripping Potter's robes fell away...