The dark-haired man stood and waited. He had crossed the bridge some time ago now. He could not recall if it was yesterday, last week, or perhaps last year. Here, time did not pass in the same way. But here, he waited.
He then heard the sounds of someone approaching, coming from a distance. The steps grew closer. The footfall was jaunty, firm, and full of confidence.
He stood on tiptoe, but his view was distorted. That was the way of things on this side of the "Rainbow Bridge". You could only see so far across.
He vaguely remembered it was similar for him when he had approached the bridge from the other side. However, when he’d crossed the bridge, he had not been in the right frame of mind to take it all in. He had been an angry and misunderstood man. Now, he had become mellower, and he had someone to thank. This was the reason why he stood here, waiting patiently.
With each footstep’s approach, the body of the man became more distinct. A tall grey-haired figure strode into view. He was smartly dressed. He wore a grey pair of flannels, topped with a white open-necked shirt. His suit jacket draped jauntily over one shoulder with one hand holding onto it while his other arm swung along, relaxed and matching his gait.
The man had a crooked smile, and with instant recognition, his eyes radiated warmth as they returned his gaze across the bridge.
The man for whom he had waited had arrived.
"Severus Tobias Snape, is that you?" the new arrival asked.
"Yes," he replied. "I knew you would be coming across one day. I asked to be able to meet you. I wanted to welcome you home."
"I must admit, it is a surprise, from many angles."
"In this place, mystical as well as magical meet."
"So I see."
The dark-haired man lifted up his chin and held out his hand in welcome. The grey-haired man stood and stared eye-to-eye with him. Then he shook the proffered hand firmly.
"Thank you, Alan," Severus said, his eyes watering. "I wanted to thank you for making me seem more real, more believable. I am glad you led a productive life. You found your sweetheart, loved her and held her close all those years. Unlike me, you lived a full life. I am sad you could not remain longer."
"I have to thank you in turn, Severus." Alan gripped Severus at the shoulders and gave him a little shake. "You, Severus, you, opened up a new world for me. Without you, the books, the films and the fanfiction would not exist. I have to thank you in turn. You were a brave man, a hero. Do not forget it?"
They hugged each other then broke apart, emotions back under control, for now.
Alan looked back over the Rainbow Bridge, deep in thought. His face looked sad. His shoulders slumped as he thought of those he left behind. However, his body had grown weak and he had become tired; he knew it had been his time. He had not wished to leave like he did. But when you get "The Call", you cannot disobey.
Severus watched the turmoil of emotions pass across Alan's face. This man had left so much behind that had been worthwhile: his work, his family and many friends who loved him. Severus scowled. If he had magic, he would have fixed it for him to return.
Instead, Severus took hold of his hand then led him to one side of the bridge and pointed downwards.
"Look, Alan, do you see?"
Alan followed the long arm and looked down. Far beneath him, a globe of little black dots sparked into life. Few in number at first, then the lights began to spread rapidly.
He gasped as he watched the dark dots appear, then each in turn burst into light, and soon a swarm of dots spread all around the world, every dot instantly illuminated.
Alan remained silent, fascinated. The lights grew until the whole world shone with a variety of bright and coloured lights. Gradually, the brightness became even stronger and a flash burst outwards, encompassing the world in a golden glow.
The flash made Alan jump back a pace, feeling unsure. He felt something in his heart stir, and he continued to stare in wonder, not yet comprehending. He listened attentively when Severus next spoke.
"Below, you’re seeing the tribute to your passing. It’s the love you have left behind, my friend. The lights are for you. Each one is a heart you have touched in some way. They include family, friends, acquaintances, fans of your work... So many people who respected you, some who never met you. Every single light is for you. Millions below are raising their wands, Muggle and Magic together, to thank you for the life you have lived. Every one honours you and regrets your passing. You were a man who was much loved in the world."
Alan gazed down, his face wet with tears. He now knew every light below cried for him. In turn, he cried with them, for them. He had not wanted to leave them.
Severus patted his shoulder and whispered in his ear. "When I passed, I was angry, upset with the world, then me mam met me here. She took my hand and showed me the world below. Like you, I saw the sparks of light burst forth around the world. It was only then that I realised I had indeed been loved. My passing was mourned. The lights shone for me too. This is the reason I wanted to be here for you, my friend. I wanted to be the one who showed you the light, just like you showed light to me. I have watched and learned from you. I am no longer that bitter and twisted "Bat of the Dungeon". I, like you, have been "Truly, Madly, Deeply" loved. The love will continue to grow, Alan, even without you in their world. You shall be remembered. ALWAYS!"
A few more tears were jointly shed. Below, a mist slowly gathered, blocking their view of the lights which continued to grow in strength.
It was time for them to move on.
Together, the matching pair – the dark and the grey – marched away from the Rainbow Bridge, their heads together, talking in deep melodic tones.
Side by side, they walked off into the distance. An odd burst of laughter could be heard as they discussed the joys of life and the new adventure awaiting them.