Chapter 1 : An Epitaph - Severus Tonias Snape
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I feel really awkward standing here in front of his grave. When the Ministry said that I was to have the honour of marking his grave, I didn’t know what they meant. I most definitely didn’t think that I’d be standing in front of his mourners, few that they are. Maybe it should have been Lucius Malfoy to do it instead, who’s been glaring daggers at me through the entire funeral.
Or Draco. I only found out when he made a speech about him, but it turns out that he was Draco’s godfather. The way Draco got treated in class makes more sense now. Sort of.
It’s so stupid that I’m doing this. I hated him, for Merlin’s sake. I really, truly hated him, up till about a minute before he died. You can’t hate a dying man, after all. I only realised afterwards that he was actually a good person, how stupid am I?
He saved us from so many of the stupid things that we did. In first year, we thought he was the nasty, evil wizard; he was really mean in our first lesson, making those comments about me being a ‘celebrity’. Hermione even set his robes on fire when she thought he was trying to kill me. In fact he’d been trying to save me. Like he always tried to save us. In third year, we stunned him. Three jinxes at once. It was good job we didn’t really know stunners. We could have killed him.
Fourth year, he knew that something was wrong. He was one of the first to suspect Moody-cum-Crouch. And that summer, I dread to think how he must have fared. I remember Dumbledore telling me that he went back to Voldemort about an hour after he should have, and I’m sure the old man was hinting that he got tortured for his troubles. Regularly. For about three years. Till the day he died. Crap.
Fifth year, we found out he was a spy, found out he was really on our side. And did I listen to that? No. Of course I didn’t. Looking back, I wonder how I ignored it. And because I didn’t trust him, Sirius died. Although it might have been partly Sirius’s fault that I didn’t trust him. Sirius really, really didn’t like him.
I think I can forgive myself for thinking the worst of him in our sixth year. That was when he killed Dumbledore. I talked to the portrait last week. I can’t believe Dumbledore actually asked him to kill him. I couldn’t imagine that. See, Dumbledore said that they’d been friends, good friends. I couldn’t have killed Ron or Hermione no matter what they’d said. Heck, I even doubt I could have killed Draco bloody Malfoy.
I didn’t know he was really on our side until just before I killed Riddle. Just before I sort-of-but-not-really-died. He was braver than me at that too. I couldn’t even die properly like he did. I feel kind of sorry for him, in all honesty. He didn’t even get a chance to tell snake-face that he’d been on my side for nearly twenty years.
A cultured cough from behind me. That’ll be Lucius Malfoy, wanting me to hurry up and write something on the damn grave. Hermione told me last week I needed to think what to write, but there’s been so much going on, so many funerals, and I’ve barely had a moment to myself, let alone to think about him.
Maybe I should write about his job, ‘cause, although we hated him for it, he was a damn good teacher. Once, Hermione looked up the statistics of Potions accidents in wizarding schools. The tally for Hogwarts was low. Really low. And there hadn’t been a fatal one since he’d been there, either.
Professor and Potions Master. Perfect. Nothing derogatory that will reflect badly on me, nothing personal that can be read into, and truthful. It’s on the tip of my tongue when I think back to the memories he gave me. Crap. He was more than that. He was a lot more than that.
I’m tempted to write Death Eater, but something tells me that all of the Malfoys, even Narcissa who can’t stop sobbing, would tear me limb from limb. Plus, he was only a real Death Eater for what, two years maximum? No, that wouldn’t work.
What else could I say about him? Greasy Git, Bat of the Dungeons. Gryffindor-Hater. Potter-Hater. Evans-Lover? No. Ew. That would just be too gross.
Murderer is true, but all of his crimes were expunged from the record. Bastard isn’t literally true, but he was. Head of Slytherin House. True. Short. Not enough.
I can’t help but sigh. Gods, Hermione is going to kill me for not having written this weeks ago. She actually liked him. She respected him. Why didn’t I get her to write me something? Something normal, that will make sense, and that everybody will like.
Think, Harry, think. What advice did Hermione give? Something to do with their lives. Can’t do the old Muggle trick here. No Loving father, sorely missed husband. Frankly, I can’t imagine anyone missing him. Surely the Hogwarts students will be cheering that they won’t have him for Potions. I would be, if I were still there.
Dammit. There’s nothing to write. Perhaps I should just leave it blank. But that’s actually bloody impossible to do. I can’t move from my kneeling position in front of his grave until I’ve written something. Maybe something that he would have liked. Ooh, good idea. Hermione found poetry books in his office. Maybe a poem.
Here is where a bastard lies,
Nobody laughs, nobody cries,
Where he goes, how he fares,
Nobody knows, nobody cares.
That one isn’t even mine. Yay for Muggle graves. Yay for Hermione making me read through about a million real epitaphs.
Or is that just too cruel? From the sobbing behind me, I think the Malfoys do care. Yet another option that would get me killed. Perhaps I should write something that he would have said. I can almost see it on the grave; Damn you all to hell, you bunch of insolent dunderheads!
Or something he wanted. An Order of Merlin. Well, he’s got one now. Posthumously awarded. Yes, I know, I got the pleasure of collecting it for him.
Wait. Wait. I have it.
Yes. It’s perfect. Exactly him.
I tap my wand against the stone, and softly murmur the correct words.
The spell holding me to the soil releases me and I stand up, clearing a path for the Malfoy family to wish him farewell. They don’t look mad, which is probably a good thing. Holy Merlin. Lucius Malfoy just chuckled at it. Even Draco’s smiling. Narcissa is walking towards me. What do I do? What do I say? Please don’t say that she’s going to hex me for it.
“Thank you, Mr Potter,” she tells me, stopping a reasonable distance from me. “Thank you. He would have liked it, I’m sure.”
Severus Tobias Snape
Feared and Revered,
A True Hero.