Word Count: 750
Scenario: Post-War. Harry just wants a hug, but Snape only gives him a lecture.
Author's Note: This was very hard for me to write. I think I just don't do Snarry well. I didn't read any of the other entries before writing this one (to avoid copying), and it looks like I'll have to read them in the morning, since it's 2 AM now and I'm utterly drained...
* * *
It is a night so dark that Harry can't see.
There are people all around, he knows. There is blood on them and blood on his hands, and when he raises them to his face the darkness gives way for a moment to an overwhelming red-black-metal sensation.
He hears without really listening. Low murmurs and high-pitched yells, a loud cacophony of residual pain and broken joy, like so many shards of shattered glass dreams. It is sharp, blinding, and piercing. He wonders for a moment if it would look beautiful from a distance, where one is only conscious of the dazzling headlights of victory.
The wind whips his scarf around, and above him, the clouds move. There is a sudden shaft of moonlight shining down on the battlefield. It lights on the body of a Death Eater.
Harry can see these things, but he can't see what he wants to see. There is a burning question in his mind that refuses to take shape.
Blindly, he staggers to his feet, and reaches out to lean on someone. Nobody takes his hand.
They all hate me, thinks Harry, with a detachment that should have frightened him. Only he can't seem to feel anything at that moment. I did this. They hate me.
He pushes his way out of the confused crowd. The blood is still wet on him, and he realises a bit too late that he's been leaving swathes of scarlet on everyone's robes as they brush by. He starts running, and turns only when he's out of breath, far away.
Things seem blurrier than usual. Harry raises a hand to his face, and adjusts his glasses.
Everything is red. He can't tell which of the fallen were on his side, and which were on Voldemort's. They all look the same.
It feels like he has paid a heavy tithe in exchange for peace. Harry Potter, the prophesied saviour - bringing the world to its feet and its death.
He turns away, and stumbles.
A pair of arms catches at him savagely. "That's quite enough."
The familiar voice jolts him out of a daze. He looks up to meet Snape's glare, and it makes him feel like he's six years younger, entering Potions class for the first time. "Professor, I - " he starts instinctively, before realising he has nothing to say.
"Come to your senses, Potter." Snape steadies Harry and lets go of him, stepping back. With the support suddenly gone, Harry feels weak. His knees start to buckle.
Snape leans forward, and without any warning at all, he slaps Harry smartly across the face.
"Stop that," says Snape.
Harry tries to stand straight and look up, but Snape's eyes are grim and unforgiving, and full of a searching, probing light. "Stop what?" he mumbles.
Snape's voice is harsh. "Don't ask me questions you know the answer to."
"I - " Harry glances out again at the blood behind him. The blood on him. The stinging feeling from the slap reverberates in his mind, and he feels tired - so tired - all of a sudden. "I - can't."
"Potter. You cannot expect me to believe that." Snape's tone has changed. It is still hard and cold, but now some of the schoolmaster edge is gone, and instead there is a jarring sort of pity. Not sympathy. Pity.
Harry is silent.
Snape crosses his arms and narrows his eyes. "So this is what it comes down to? The Boy Who Lived, standing on his field of victory, and wracked with doubt for the first time."
"Doubt?" Harry echoes, even though he knows exactly what Snape means.
"Yes. Doubt." Snape's gaze is unwavering. "You are doubting if it was worth it. Do not tell me I am wrong. I am not easily lied to."
Something inside Harry snaps, as he hears the half-formed question being voiced at long last. "But was it?" he whispers quietly, the last vestiges of his bravado fading.
Snape reaches out to grab him by the shoulders. The sudden contact makes Harry look up, and for a split second, he thinks he sees a softening in his professor's expression.
"Your parents died so you could see this day," Snape says curtly.
With that, he straightens up, and walks away without another word. Harry watches his swirling, bloodstained cloak as it recedes into the distance.
The doubt is gone, but in its place, there is a new sensation. And it is not unpleasant.