Disclaimer: All characters from the Harry Potter universe belong to J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury Publishing, Scholastic Inc., AOL/Time Warner and associated companies. No offence, legal or otherwise, is intended by the online publication of this story. Neither is profit. Make love, not lawsuits!

Notes: A wintry little vignette. Severus Snape awakens.

Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended.

I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word.
My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may
meditate on your promises...

- Bible, Psalms:119


Rise Before Dawn
by switchknife


His cloak is a black wing against the snow. Fallen. His ears are ringing with silence, too loud, too loud, but above it he can hear the shrill wind-whistle. Snow's heavy and wet against his face. It's fresh, despite everything--it carries the scent of blood and ash away from him. His mask is half-buried by his arm, gleaming white as bone. A buried skull. He tries to clutch at it, tries, but fails.

Where is his wand?

Then a shadow flickers at the edge of his vision, and he looks--and there's Harry Potter, standing over him, hair dusted with snow, glasses streaked with it. He looks very young.

'So there you are,' Potter says. He crouches down as well, balancing his wand on his knees--and he looks tired, so tired. 'Tonks and the others are looking for you, you know.'

'Are they?'

'Yeah.' Potter looks away for an instant, as though hearing something, and then he looks back at Snape again. 'You should get up now.'

I should get up. Snape thinks about it, abstractly, the act of getting up--folding his knees, lifting them, bringing his elbows under himself in order to push. Clean puppet motions. They should be easy, but he can't move. His can barely feel his fingers. 'It's cold,' he says to Potter, but his voice doesn't shiver.

Potter chuckles. 'Yeah, it is.' He blinks at Snape. 'I think you're in shock.'

It's Snape's turn to chuckle. Except he can't, so he only stretches his mouth in a smile. 'I agree.'

There is a moment's silence in which Potter's hand comes to rest on his forehead--wonderfully warm, oddly warm despite all the snow--and then Potter's getting up again, brushing off his cloak, which smells clean. Doesn't smell like blood at all. 'Well, that's that, then. They're coming.' He looks down at Snape quickly, mouth open as if to say something else--but then he shakes his head, almost-smiles, and says: 'I'm sorry.'

What for, Snape thinks of asking him, what for?--although he can think of a thousand things--but then Potter's stepping out of his line of sight, disappearing in a swirl of robe, and then the boy is gone.

It is only then that Severus notices the absence of footsteps on the snow.

It is only then that Severus remembers the warmth of Potter's hands.

It is only then that Severus remembers witnessing the Killing Curse.

It is only then that Severus realises they've lost the war.


* FIN *

Please review here.