January 9th, 1999: January 9th, 1999
January 9th, 1999
I gather my long, thick white robes around me, the ermine fur trim tickling my nose and providing comfort against the bitter January cold as I make my way across the snowy grounds of Hogwarts. The school is still closed for repair, and as I wind my way towards the back of the castle I can see the ant-like figures of the wizards hard at work repairing the ramparts above. Snowflakes wheel and turn prettily, landing on my hair and shoulders. The snow has given the place a sense of gravity and a muffled sense of peace; a stark contrast to the chaos of the battle just 8 months earlier.
The battle. The memories of that fateful night will never leave me. When I had crouched over Harry Potter’s body after he’d been felled by the Dark Lord and found him to be alive, I understood. The boy had the power to stop the Dark Lord, to stop the mindless destruction. And so in that moment, I chose to betray the Dark Lord, just like the Dark Lord had betrayed my family and me with his callousness and lack of mercy.
And he did betray us; all of us. Slowly, I began to realise that the Dark Lord cared nothing for even his most ardent supporters. The empty promise of power, of superiority... the man was a megalomaniac and the only thing he really cared about was his own power. By the time I had realised this, it was too late: Lucius was in Azkaban and my only son had been given a dreadful task, one which both the Dark Lord and I knew Draco would be unable to complete. I felt powerless and trapped. There was no way out of this horrible situation, and my family was being torn apart before my very eyes. Death would be the only way out, either my own, my family’s, or, it seemed impossible to think, the Dark Lord’s. We were so deeply embroiled within the dark; I never thought we would have a chance of seeing the light again. Until I looked into Harry Potter’s eyes on the night of the battle.
Most of our assets had been seized after the Dark Lord had been killed. Draco had escaped punishment, thankfully, due mainly to my protestations about his age and the memories of how I lied to the Dark Lord on the night of the battle. But Lucius was sent once more to Azkaban. So many people were tried for war crimes, and the Wizengamot has been flooded with appeals and pleas for retrials from the families of the accused. Social standing means nothing anymore, so all I can do now is sit and wait until I find out whether Lucius is to face the Dementor’s Kiss or not.
I shiver, as much from the bitter chill as from my own thoughts. The Forbidden Forest lies to my right, now. I can see Dumbledore’s white marble tomb just ahead. But it is not that great wizard I am here to pay my respects to; it is for one, in my opinion, far braver and nobler.
I make my way up the slight incline and reach a small courtyard flanked by cherry trees. Dumbledore’s tomb now rests to the left. In the middle stands a huge granite plaque, complete with the names of all that fell during the battle. To the right lies another tomb, this one in black marble, a stark contrast to Dumbledore’s: the tomb of Severus Snape.
I walk slowly, cautiously, towards his tomb, my breath caught in my throat. The marble is polished and imposing; much like the man who now resides within it. Just like Dumbledore’s tomb, it has a grand carving on top. The sculpture of Severus Snape lies peacefully, his arms folded across his chest, his wand clutched in one hand. The sculptor did a fine job. They perfectly captured the thickness of his hair, the way his robes appear to billow to the pedestal below, and even the unmistakable crook of his nose. I reach a hand out and gently run my fingers along the ridge of his nose, just like I’d done once when he was alive. The marble was icy under my touch. This one action seemed to open up the gates of grief for me; I am consumed with how much he gave, of how much he sacrificed.
There had always been a link between Severus and me, from the moment we first met. We seemed to respect each other deeply. Severus was not like other men. He did not boast about his achievements, his position with the Dark Lord, or any conquests of women. When he was younger, the boys would mock Severus for his supposed lack of interest in women. But when I looked into his fathomless obsidian eyes, I knew lack of interest had nothing to do with it. Severus seemed to fall for women who were unattainable.
Sighing, I read the bold inscription on the plinth:
Severus Tobias Snape
January 9th, 1959 - May 2nd, 1998
From The Darkest Reaches Comes The Light
I pull my cloak yet tighter around me as a chill runs down my spine. The light in Severus’ life was kept hidden, right until the end. The light that made him protect the son of the woman he loved – the son of the man he hated. That Severus had such depth of feeling for a woman who cared naught for him hurts me greatly. Lucius had, from time to time, questioned Severus on his apparent celibacy. Surely, such a wizard such as he could have his pick of the witches? Severus always used to reply that his work for the war effort was more important. How little we knew!
Many people had regarded him as being dour, mean and unapproachable, but that was not the Severus Snape I knew. The Severus that I knew - the younger Severus, the Severus who Lucius took under his wing after he had left Hogwarts – that Severus had a dry, sarcastic wit, was endlessly polite, and could talk for hours about literature or Potions or the state of the Ministry. That Severus dined at the Manor with me endless times. That Severus was the one I begged to protect my only son when I was desperate and lonely. And that Severus, if I had not been betrothed since birth, I would have happily married.
I cannot stop the tears from beginning to fall, now. Life was so cruel in so many ways to him and yet he gave so much. He never had a family of his own, and only had tattered memories to keep him warm at night. My eyes blur as the hot tears sting my cheeks. Did he die alone, thinking that no-one cared, that no-one loved him? This thought rips my heart in two, and I let out a sob like a wounded animal. No! No.
I reach out and once more trace the contour of the statue’s nose with my hand, the freezing marble mirroring the coldness of Severus’ life. ‘You were loved, Severus,’ I manage to croak, my voice barely more than a whisper.
One of my tears falls onto the snow-caked ground below, and to my surprise, one tiny, perfect white narcissus sprouts from where it fell. It’s been so long since I’d performed accidental magic that I cannot help but let out a little laugh. It seems fitting, that I should leave a token to grow forever by his tomb, to keep him company in death.
‘You were loved, Severus,’ I repeat, before turning and heading back across the Hogwarts grounds.
* * *
Author’s note: I started writing this as a “birthday present” to Severus on 9th January this year but I have only just got around to finishing it. Sorry, professor.
This story archived at: Occlumency