Chapter 30 : Set My Soul Free
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She and Sirius sat behind the family. It seemed like funerals were what they would be doing for a while, just as in the summer it had been weddings. One year can change so much in a person’s life. Yesterday they had gone to Remus and Tonks’ funeral. Andromeda had them buried beside her husband. Sirius had stood beside his older cousin and Valora had held onto Teddy, who fussed the entire time, not understanding where his Mummy and Daddy were.
It was now late afternoon and the early signs of twilight were settling in the sky. Most of the funeral party had gone back to the Burrow but Valora had stayed behind. Her day wasn’t over. Sirius had offered to stay with her but she didn’t want him there. Valora’s hair blew in the breeze, whipping the tendrils softly around her face as she walked in her black stiletto heels. She was not in her usual leather pants and black t-shirt; instead she wore business like black slacks and a black blouse beneath her leather jacket. She turned on her heel and apparated to another graveyard. Up on a little hill, beside a willow tree, she saw the hole in the ground. Valora took a deep breath and began up the hill, vaguely aware of footsteps behind her. She turned and saw Harry struggling to keep up with her.
“What are you-?” She began only to be cut off as he hugged her tightly.
“I don’t want you to go through it alone.” He whispered. Valora fought back the tears that those words induced and kissed her godson’s forehead in gratitude. They continued until they reached the top where there was a gravedigger standing between two headstones. The one to the left read:
Valora Ambellina Nox. Born: 1960. Died: 1980.
The one to the right read:
Severus Snape. Born: 1960. Died: 1998.
Valora stopped at her own headstone and with her wand erased her year of death. Before turning back to the gravedigger and nodding. The man raised an eyebrow.
“You sure you don’t want to take one last look?” He checked, his voice deep and gravelly. Valora shook her head. It was hard enough trying to shake the image of Severus as he lay dying in her arms. She wanted to remember him alive, not lying in a box before being buried in the ground. The gravedigger shrugged and used his wand to levitate the casket and lowered it into the ground. Valora’s eyes never left the casket. It was black with silver handles. It suited him.
When it was finally lowered to the very bottom the gravedigger began using his wand to throw dirt onto it and Valora shook her head fiercely.
“No. Stop!” she said, grabbing the man’s arm before he could even get the second load of dirt into the hole.
“What gives, lady?” He asked. Valora chewed on her cheek as tears bit at her eyes.
“I want to do it.” She said. The gravedigger looked horrified and even Harry raised an eyebrow, though said nothing. It was what he had done after Dobby’s death. She felt responsible. It was more than that though. Valora didn’t want this stranger to be the one burying the love of her life. If anyone was going to lay him to rest it would be her.
“Look, Ms. Nox, it’s against policy to let the family handle the burial process. I’m sorry.” He said, even though he didn’t sound one bit sorry. Valora didn’t release his arm and reached into her pocket pulling out a bagful of galleons and thrusting them into the man’s hands.
“Here. Take it and go.” She hissed. The man looked incredulous and delighted.
“Thanks!” He said cheerily, completely forgetting the respect for the dead he was supposed to have. Valora ignored him as he walked away and instead used her wand to levitate small piles of dirt as she dropped them on the casket. At first the sound of earth hitting the wood reminded her of rainfall but as the hole began to fill she heard nothing. Harry stood watching, wondering if he should leave and get back to the Weasley’s, when suddenly Valora collapsed into sobs, leaning onto the gravestone, smearing her clothes with dirt.
“Valora.” He said, kneeling by her side. She blinked up at him through the tears and sighed.
“I guess I can tell you the whole truth now.” She said with a bitter laugh. Harry shook his head.
“No, Valora, you don’t have to-“
“I want to. You probably figured out most of it from Sev’s memories, but I’ll fill you in on the rest.” She said, taking a deep, steadying breath before beginning.
“Severus and I were partners for a project in our sixth year. During that time, when we were alone, the connection between us just grew into something we couldn’t ignore anymore. But you know how Sirius is, and how your dad and Remus were. It would have been impossible to reason with them. And Sev’s friends would have completely deserted him if he was seen with a Gryffindor. So, we kept it all a secret.
Severus was the first one to teach me Occlumency, so no one would be able to find out about us. Apparently I had been doing it for years and didn’t realize. I was always very good at repressing unpleasant things and hiding them from the world. I’ve mentioned before that my father was a bad man, and the marauders knew, to an extent. They would offer their homes to me for summer holidays and I always accepted but sometimes I was stuck home alone with my father, and when I saw them again they would see the bruises and the cuts. But there were things he did that they couldn’t see. Those were the things Severus discovered in our lessons. He wanted me to report him, but Cassius, that was my father’s name, he had connections all throughout the ministry. They never in a million years would have convicted him. So Severus took the law into his own hands and joined the Death Eaters, then he made up a lie about my father so that Voldemort would kill him.”
Valora paused to gage Harry’s reaction but the boy was paying rapt attention and so she continued. “It should have bothered me that my boyfriend helped murder my father but I was so relieved, so happy to be free. I loved Sev all the more for it. I didn’t care that he joined Voldemort at first. I thought it was a fad that would die out, but clearly it didn’t. In our 7th year as he became more powerful Sev and I realized that war was becoming more and more real. Your Mum and Dad, Sirius, Remus, Peter, they were all talking about the Order of the Phoenix. This group that Dumbledore created that was going to put an end to Voldemort. Right before graduation I went to see Dumbledore in his office. I told him that I could be a double agent. I had the status, I had the ability, and we both knew I was perfect for it. My Occlumens was in top shape and my highest marks were in DADA. He agreed on the condition that I spend the summer training with Moody.
So I became the first double agent. Severus didn’t know until I appeared at the Malfoy’s in the robes they all wore. He was furious and we got into a huge fight but in the end he knew there was no turning back. Voldemort decided to have Snape apply for a position at Hogwarts. I didn’t know and had overheard a rumor that Sybil Trelawney was also going for a job interview. Well, I wanted to make sure the odds were on Severus’s side, so I borrowed your Dad’s cloak and followed Sev to Hogsmeade. I had only planned on making Sybil look a little foolish to ensure Sev got the position. He had always wanted to teach. While I was there, outside the door, I heard her give the prophecy.”
“You heard the prophecy? The one about me?” Harry repeated, stunned. Valora’s face looked pained as her next words came out in a rush.
“I didn’t know it was about you. Lily hadn’t told me she was expecting a baby, and for Merlin’s sake it was Trelawney. The woman was off her bloody rocker. I didn’t think it was real! I thought it was her trying to show off, so I told Voldemort hoping he would go on a wild goose chase and it would give the Order some time to rally more support. I swear, if I had known I would never have-“ her words cut off as a sob overcame her.
Harry waited silently for her to compose herself, which she did, slowly but surely.
“As soon as I realized what I had done I went to Dumbledore and told them to hide you. To hide everyone. It worked, and at first they wanted Sirius to be the Secret Keeper but I stupidly suggested Peter. It made perfect sense. Who would suspect Peter Pettigrew of being the Potter’s Secret Keeper? Sirius and I still knew about it, though. It seemed the only person left out was Moony.
Before Peter betrayed your parents he betrayed me, and told Voldemort all about my work for the Order. Luckily, Severus found out before I went to see Voldemort and Dumbledore helped us fake my death. I stayed with Severus during that time but when it came time for my funeral, which was right here, I had to see my friends again. Sirius didn’t leave my grave. He was beside himself. I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I came up to him and told him the truth. He was so elated that before I could stop him he had apparated us to your parents’ living room. James and Lily were thrilled and simultaneously furious with me for being alive and faking my death. I explained what had happened though, and they understood.
I was the second person on the scene when your parents died. Sirius called me. We had been there only a few hours earlier celebrating Halloween. Sirius and I figured out that it had to be Peter betraying us, so he handed you off to Hagrid and went after him before I could stop him. You know that story, though.” Valora said, pausing in her speech.
It was growing dark outside as Harry and Valora sat in the graveyard, but neither wanted to move. Valora had never told this story to anyone and Harry had the need to understand.
“Dumbledore, Sirius and Severus convinced me to stay in hiding. They said there would be residual Death Eater activity and it was safer to continue the hoax. I did sneak into the Dursely’s a few times to see you while you slept, to hold you. Once or twice I brought Sev with me. When I was at home though, I was drinking. There were too many thoughts in my head, too much guilt, too much pain and regret and drinking numbed it all. I did that for two years until Severus and I got into a fight and I walked out, thinking he no longer wanted me and my stupid complications.
I lived in Knockturn Alley for a while; living of a separate account Dumbledore had set up for me when I first went into hiding. After that I went to Paris, and eventually wound up in Italy. All that took fourteen years. One day, I woke up in a Wizarding hospital and when they asked for family I gave them Dumbledore’s name. I found out later it was Severus who had found me and paid for everything, including my rehab. He had come to look for me after the Triwizard Tournament, and Voldemort’s return. I spent another year in Italy, repairing myself.”
“And then you came back.” Harry said quietly. Valora nodded.
“Dumbledore offered me the open teaching position. Merlin knows I had enough experience in that field. So I came back. I had wanted to stay out of everyone’s way; everyone thought I was dead for one reason or another. I owled Sirius a few months before I moved back here and let him know that I was coming home. I didn’t mention much of where I had been for the past fourteen years. I had never stopped loving Severus but it had been so long and there were unresolved issues between us, but, well, you saw the memories.” She said with a little laugh. “We picked up where we had left off. Sneaking around, meeting in secret but this time it was different. This time we were going to win.” Valora said sadly, and then looked sideways at the grave.
“We were so close. An hour longer and everything would have been fine. I’ve been trying to create a world where we could finally be together for over twenty years, and now that I’ve achieved it he’s gone. We’ll never get married; he’ll never meet his child. Oh, I’m pregnant by the way.” She said in an offhand manner that any other time would have made Harry laugh, instead he bit his lip and pulled her to her feet.
“Valora, you can’t change the past. You did what you thought you had to do, and because of you I’m still alive. Teddy is going to grow up in a world without a war, just like your baby. You helped do that. You helped people everywhere start a new life. That counts for something.” Harry told her. “C’mon, let’s get back to the Burrow.”
“I’m going to finish this.” Valora said. Harry nodded and hugged her before turning to walk away. He then turned back to her.
“Does Sirius know this story?” He asked. Valora shrugged.
“Bits and pieces.”
“Are you going to tell him everything you told me?” Harry asked her. Valora sighed and shook her head.
“Sirius like to pretend that what Severus and I had never happened. I won’t make him see what he wants to remain blind to.” She said simply.
“And the baby?” Harry pressed. Valora paused in thought.
“My baby will grow up knowing how in love his or her parent’s were and that their father was a hero.” She said.
“So is their mother.” Harry told her before throwing her a smile and disapparating back to the Burrow. Valora felt completely run down and utterly spent but continued to shovel until the grave was completely covered. When everything was finished she used her wand to clean the dirt from her clothes. She hoped that through Severus’s memories and Valora’s story Harry would be able to tell her son or daughter what their parents shared. A love that couldn’t be stopped by anything. Valora thought back to the first time she had told Severus she loved him.
“Look, it’s obvious you and I aren’t always going to agree or see eye to eye, and we might not always get along even, but I just think you need to know that no matter what you do, what you say, or how far apart we are that I am going to love you, every day, for the rest of my life. I know at sixteen I shouldn’t be feeling or even saying that, but I do and I am. I love you Severus and I don’t ever want to exist in this world without you.” She said, her eyes filling with tears. Severus stared at her and as a tear leaked out of her eye he brushed it away with his thumb.
“You are the only person in the world that can make a confession of love sound like a break-up.” He noted dryly. Valora let out a strange half-laugh and half-sob, resting her head on his shoulder. He leaned her back and looked at her very seriously.
“I’m not a good person, and I know you deserve better than me. You deserve someone you can introduce to your friends and someone who can hold your hand in daylight and doesn’t make you sneak around libraries at night and constantly fight with you. I should give you up, and walk away and let you find someone else, but I can’t bring myself to do it. I worry about you whenever you aren’t with me, I can’t stand being away from you. I want to keep you entirely to myself forever, and I don’t care how selfish that is. I love you, Valora.” He said. Valora was still crying but smiling through the tears.
“I’ll follow you anywhere.” She promised.
“I’ll never be far from you.” He said. Valora smiled and leaned forward, laying a gentle kiss on his lips. Severus Snape. The love of her life.
A tear leaked out the corner of Valora’s eye as she stood beside Severus’s grave. A hand went to her middle, caressing the life there. She trusted her family to take care of the baby when she was gone. She had made a promise and she intended to keep it. In nine months, after the baby was born, she would follow Severus into the dark.
A.N.: And so ends book II! I hope you all enjoyed it. The last line is a rip off from ‘I’ll Follow You Into The Dark’ by Death Cab For Cutie, but it’s one of my VN/SS theme songs and it fit too well. I will be starting book III ‘The Only Glory’ very soon. It will follow the next 9 months of the pregnancy. Don’t worry there’s going to be 2 more after that to make this a 5 book series. Please review and keep an eye out for ‘The Only Glory’. Again, thanks so much for reading.