Severus opened his eyes and saw the pale, handsome face of a man half-stooping, half-kneeling on the ground beside him. With as little ceremony as a parent who cleans something from a child's face, the man licked his finger and daubed a sort of symbol on each of Severus's eyelids, on his lips and over his heart. Then he made a gesture over Severus's left arm, and the Dark Mark disappeared.
Darkness lingered all over, and Severus was too stunned to do anything except look at the man. He wore black boots and a black travelling coat, and had an air of great authority that made Severus instinctively respect him. Severus felt as if he had known him all his life, but he couldn't remember his name.
"Do I know you, sir?" asked Severus.
"Severus Snape," he said, in a peculiar, northern accent. "You lived among people who call themselves wizards, yet they ignore my name. However, you are a northern man like myself, and your magic appeals to me. You can stay in my kingdom, if it suits you."
"Do I have a choice in the matter?"
"Oh, I can very well return you to the place you came from. Would you like me to do that?"
Severus didn't miss anything. His life had been a long series of mistakes, dangers, disappointments and sufferings. Lily, his only love, was dead, and so was Dumbledore, the wizard Severus had respected and loved as a mentor, but who had never fully trusted him.
"Is the boy all right? Did he defeat the Dark Lord?" asked Severus.
The gentleman rolled his eyes as if that were a very boring subject. "Yes, and yes."
Severus breathed deeply, relaxing. Slowly, he stood up.
They were in a wide moor, beneath the stars. Magic envelopped him, filled him; Severus could feel it flowing through his veins. Perhaps he would finally be able to devote himself completely to magic, as he had always dreamed.
Severus looked at the handsome gentleman and nodded. "I will accept your offer and stay in your kingdom."
Ptyx, October 2007