Chapter 42 : The Blue Stone
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Hermione never dreamed she would be in this spot again so soon. Beneath that old oak in the garden of the burrow. There she stood with a circle of others around the mound of dirt that marked Ron’s grave.
It had been exactly one week since their battle, since their deaths, and since little baby James had been born.
The low point of the sun covered everything in the garden with a golden light; the orange leaves that had fallen from the oak lined the floor like the golden paves of the Celestial City.
Around her stood the members of the order, the Weasley’s all stood together, Molly and Arthur, George, Percy, Bill, Charlie. Harry and Ginny stood together on the other side of the mound, opposite Hermione. Ginny held their little baby boy in her arms, wrapped in blankets to save him from the cold, he slept soundly. Harry had not raised his eyes to look at her since she arrived, and she didn’t expect him too.
Luna, Neville, Kingsley and Mad-Eye stood by the dirt too, their heads bowed.
Severus stood next to Hermione, his hand pressed to the small of her back. Hermione suspected that he did not want to show too much affection, the sight of him holding her hand would have been too much. It seemed improper to show any form of affection when this was Ron’s funeral.
Molly moved forward with a fresh batch of cut lily’s, the sight of them began to pulse a pain behind Hermione’s eyes. They would only decay if they were left there, what a waste of such a beautiful flower.
‘Molly, please don’t’ she whispered, and all the heads around her raised and stared. Molly stopped in her tracts and stared at Hermione too.
‘Put them in some water, keep them in the house…just don’t leave them there to die’ Molly looked down at the petals and pursed her lips, as if she was about to retort. Instead she nodded her head stiffly and stepped back into Arthur’s arms.
Hermione looked down at her clenched hand, rolling the blue stone within her palm. She wondered if she should say anything; address the small crowd with a few words of comfort, of sorrow, perhaps a little begging for forgiveness?
She licked her dry lips to speak, but Ginny’s voice reached her ears first, and she was thoroughly relieved.
‘It is so unfair that even in victory we come together in grief. We share each others sorrow in the same time that we join to celebrate the triumph of our battle’ her voice was still cracked and broken from the manor, the bruising was still visible on her neck ‘my brother, this son, this noble friend died in the attempt to save the life of another’ Hermione dropped her eyes in Ginny’s blazing glare, she felt her cheeks flush a delicate pink.
‘He did not die in vain, for by sacrificing himself he saved not only the one he intended to, but the world in his wake. His decision to jump instead of raising his wand to defend himself has taught us that the most powerful magic in this world cannot be cast with a wand or brewed in a potion. It lies instead, within the deepest and darkest paths of our hearts.
‘I will never forget my brother, or his sacrifice, for his decision cleared the way for our victory. And tonight when the sun is once again driven back by the night, I will cast my eyes to those beautiful stars and look for the brightest one my eyes can find. There he will be, twinkling in the vast darkness, a beacon for those who have not yet reached that dark throne.
‘There he will be above us, watching over us all, until we all have our place cut in the heavens next to him, and all of the others that we have lost’
The silence was awe-filled, even the hushing wind seemed to have stopped at Ginny’s powerful words.
How could any of them possibly have anything to add after that?
Hermione forced her shaking feet forward, she felt the warmth of Severus’s hand disappear and she felt somewhat adrift without it there on her back, as if she had known nothing else but him.
She crept towards the head of the grave and knelt down in the dirt, caring not that she was muddying her bare knees. She uncurled her fingers like how a Rain Daisy uncurls in the warm rays of dawning light.
She dug the dirt with her hands, making a deep enough hole that would hold a seed.
The blue stone glimmered oddly; it seemed to welcome the earth.
Hermione planted a soft kiss on the cold surface, and placed it within the tiny grave. A tear fell from her eyes that she had managed, until now, to keep dry. It fell on the stone before she replaced the earth upon it.
She gulped hard and raised herself up, she stepped backwards and felt a wave of relief when Severus’s hand fell against her again, she wiped her eyes and looked over the mound once more before she turned to leave.
But a violent shudder beneath her feet made her knock into Severus, the bark of the old oak shook and the topmost dirt of the mound slid and scattered in the ominous tremors.
Something began to rise from the dirt at the head of the grave, something large and square, the earth tremored more violently as inches and inches of the large square structure rose from the soil.
Hermione looked at Severus with desperate eyes, she had not a clue as to what could be happening, and so she was confused when Severus harbored a very small smile that twitched the corner of his lips.
The shuddering grew softer as the growing stone slowed its movements, and the earth’s tremors came to a stop as the tablet became still.
It was the strangest colour, Hermione had never seen anything quite like it. She would have guessed that it was ivory, but instead of being purely white, it seemed to glow with bright blue lines like veins, that ran all over its surface.
The light pulsed beautiful, and set everyone’s face in a heavenly shine, making the tear streaked cheeks bright and splendid.
The vein like lines began to form words on the ivory surface, that pulsed with that divine glow.
Ronald Billius Weasley
Unseen, is Destiny’s way
The unknown path
Is the one to tread.
All stood and read the inscription for a few long moments before they began to depart, Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Severus were left behind.
Severus leant down to Hermione and kissed her head before he turned to leave her alone for a moment. She stared blankly at the stone, watching the soothing patterns of pulsing light.
Ginny rested her forehead against Harry’s cheek. The baby nestled between the two of them.
‘Harry’ she whispered, so softly that her words seemed to get wrapped in the wind ‘Think about what you will loose, if you let go of her now’ she felt Harry stiffen slightly, she stood on tiptoes to kiss him on the corner of his mouth and she too turned towards the Burrow.
She knew as well as Harry did, that Hermione was more than just a friend to him. They had been such bonded friends for so long now, that leaving each other would be like another grievance, another heart crushing loss. They were brother and sister, there was no other way to describe it, and she would be damned before she let Harry cast out a sister as easily as that.
Harry moved very slowly from where he stood, but he did not approach Hermione, who remained stony and unaware of him.
He moved instead to Severus, who stood some feet away with his back turned away from him. Harry stood closer to him than he would have likes, but he wanted his efforts to seem as genuine as they felt in his heart.
‘Snape-I mean… Severus’ he said, keeping his voice low and civil.
Severus turned slowly, to face Harry; he caught a glimpse of those eyes and found that it was not as hard to keep his gaze on them, as if the gut wrenching pull to turn his eyes away was lifted. He too kept a civil glare and nodded once. Harry had never used his first name, and he understood how hard it must have been to say.
He watched as Harry pulled at his pocket, and from it he drew a beautiful emerald cloak. Severus’s stomach seemed to drop to his knees.
‘I believe this was in your possession for a good few years. Hermione wore it here a few days ago… and then Ginny took it when she went to the Manor after us’
Severus felt himself grow hot, he gulped loudly.
‘It has my mothers name in it, the cloak. It’s a brilliant emerald colour, like her eyes I would imagine. Tell me…how did it come to be in your house?’ Severus could see it was difficult for Harry to be so civil, and so he shifted the most part of his iciness away, and answered as civilly as he could.
‘I’ll tell you, but only because there is no chance that you will despise me anymore than you have ever done, and before I start you should know that this is a truth that happened long before you were born, these are events that occurred a lifetime before you were even thought about, and so I ask you not to judge my actions. Young men after all, are prone to be rash and careless’ he say Harry’s eyes narrow with the slightest amount of confusion.
‘The story, I’m afraid, runs deeper than I could possibly explain in detail’ he started ‘but… I’ll do my best’ he paused for a moment before he continued ‘I knew your mother, when we were both children. We were…best friends’ Severus found it more comforting to look at the ground ‘She was, so intelligent and funny and lively and… well, beautiful’ he looked him in the eyes, hoping his directness would stop Harry asking if he could repeat himself ‘I…I-loved her… so very much, more than I could possibly tell you’ his face was burning, and he was sure he could see Harry swelling slightly, perhaps with anger, perhaps with shock, unease. He looked back to the floor, resuming in the comfort.
‘But she never loved me… not like that anyway’ he added quickly.
‘She loved…Potter, your father. And I felt I had nothing else holding me to the world except for the path of becoming a death eater. Years later, when the Dark Lord marked you for death, I sought out Dumbledore and we planned to keep her safe, we planned to keep all of you safe. I asked her to meet me in my home, and she did. She wore that cloak you’re speaking of… she looked so beautiful in it.’ She shook himself mentally, and carried on, taking a dryer note to his voice.
‘She left that cloak the night she left my house for the last time, the night before she was murdered along with your father, and it had not left the peg she had hung it on until Hermione plucked it off the other night’ he finished, and took a glance at Harry, whose eyes had widened a fraction.
‘Did anyone else ever know?’ he asked, Severus shook his head.
‘Dumbledore, he saw through me as if I were a plane of glass’ Severus said quietly ‘I often thought that your father knew of my affections for her, perhaps he could see it while we were at school and he sought after her on purpose just to spite me. But that couldn’t be true, like I have said… she never loved me as she loved you or your father’
Harry suddenly shut his eyes very tightly; Severus looked away from him, embarrassed that the boy would be tactless enough to start crying. Severus saw Harry’s throat convulse violently for a moment, but he seemed to gain control of himself again and he looked up. His emerald eyes were glittering with a film of unshed tears, but otherwise he was composed.
‘You- you tried to save her?’ he said in a cracked voice, Severus nodded his head slowly.
‘I asked her to leave the country, save herself from Voldemort. It was selfish of me, cruel. But she’d never leave, she’d sacrifice herself to save your life, and she did. She saved your life, but broke my heart, leaving her cloak as a horrid reminder’ Severus whispered.
‘You kept it, after so many years… thank you for that, it means a lot to me that I could hold something of hers’ Harry said quietly, rubbing his thumb and finger over the material.
Harry hesitantly held out the cloak to Severus, the muscles in his forearm stiff and tense. Severus stared at it for a moment and then shook his head, it was a gallant offer, and if things hadn’t of changed he would have accepted it, but he couldn’t now, that cloak marked a moment in the past that had haunted him since.
‘No’ he said ‘it’s yours. It looks beautiful enough on Miss. Weasley’
Harry pulled it back again, and laid it over his arm. He looked over towards Hermione, her back turned to them, her shoulders shaking a little.
‘It’s going to take a lot of time’ Harry explained as he turned to face Severus, and Severus understood he was now talking about himself and Hermione ‘It’s never going to be easy for me to accept…any of this… but you proved to be the very thing that she needed, and she needed something that I couldn’t possibly have given her. She needed a little bit of darkness to get back to the light. Its never going to be easy for me to accept, but I will try’ again Severus nodded.
Harry moved closer still, his green eyes burned for the smallest fraction of a second as he spoke with a note of warning to his civil tone ‘Don’t you dare…ever hurt her’ Severus narrowed his eyes, but nodded once more.
He expected to see James Potter glare out from the ferocity, but he smiled inwardly as he saw Lily instead. Hermione was right, his expressions, his mannerisms; they were uncannily like his mothers.
Harry retreated slightly; he looked at Severus for the longest moment, before he stretched out his hand. Severus looked over the boy; his dark stare went from the boys face, to his outstretched hand. This was a bit much, a literal stretch too far. Civility he could handle, but acquaintances…friendship?
He took the leap.
He took hold of Harry’s hand hesitantly at first, but as they shook there was a feeling of strength to it, Harry’s hand was tight on his just as Severus’s was tight on Harry’s.
Hermione began to shiver in the hushed Autumn wind. She wasn’t sure if she was crying or not, she didn’t really care.
She felt an arm fall against her shoulder; she welcomed the warmth it brought her.
‘Severus, can I do this?’ she whispered.
‘Die?’ was the reply, and her mouth opened in surprise as she turned and saw Harry by her side. He smiled slightly and looked over her tear streaked, yet bright face.
‘No’ she whispered, as fresh tears fell from her eyes ‘Can I live?’
Harry’s eyes burned with tears too before he could stop them, he gripped Hermione’s shoulders and roughly pulled her into his arms. Holding her tight against his chest.
‘I think we both can ‘Mione’ he answered ‘we’re going to have too, because little James needs a God mother, and he’ll have no one but you’ He suddenly felt the dangerous shudder of Hermione’s shoulders as she howled into his chest with broken sobs.
They held each other there for what seemed the longest time, until the tears from both party’s had dried and the chill in the wind became too much to bare. But before they closed the door to the burrow, Hermione spotted the smallest green of a sprouted plant that had risen beside the ivory grave. She smiled and closed the back door with the softest click.
Well, here we go, this chapters up a day early as I am in North Hampton for the weekend. I hope you enjoy this one, after last chapters reviews I was a little sceptical at whether this chapter would be enough? So what do you reckon?
Thank you all so much for the simply wonderful reviews everyone has left me, those brilliant readers that review every week are my life savers! Well... my life savers in the wake of Fan-Fiction.
ONE more chapter left... let the sobbing begin... I already feel a bit lip tremmbly to be honest haha!
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