There is a meadow. You note this, but it doesn’t seem to matter much. You rotate slowly on the spot, noting as you do that you can feel the grass beneath your bare feet and see and hear the people in the meadow. Therefore, you are.
This is an interesting idea, and you examine it carefully. You are. Slowly, you begin to remember who you were. Pictures come into your mind. A young girl, playing with her sister. A young lady, laughing with a young man. And you, always watching her. Never part of her world, always on the outside. Bit by bit, you piece your identity together. Soon, you know who you were. Whether or not you are still that person is not clear, but it doesn’t matter. You don’t particularly care that you are in some unknown place, for some unknown reason. It is enough to know that you are.
Then you see her. She is sitting on the ground, her skirt spread around her. Her back is to you, but you would know her anywhere. Her head is bent, as though she is looking at something in the grass. You shift slightly, and see she is kneeling in front of a pool. As you see that, you realize that there are pools sprinkled all over the meadow, and that many of the people there are looking into them. None of them matter, though, except her.
She starts up suddenly, raising her beautiful head. For one heart-stopping moment, you think that maybe she has noticed you. Then she calls out, “James!” and your heart plummets.
You had forgotten him, forgotten that she was not yours. In the years before you came here, you had imagined your reunion so many times, imagined that she could care for you. But now, now you remember the reality.
He comes running towards her, just as eager and attentive as he always was when you were all younger. You remember with bitterness how he was always there, barging in on you. On her. For a moment, you are fifteen again and you want to scream at him for interrupting you. But she reaches up to him and pulls him into her arms so naturally, and you remember once more that she chose him.
Another follows him, another man. You can hate him more easily, for she doesn’t love him. They are friends now, yes, but not as close as she is to the other. She reaches for him, too, however, and pulls him into their hug.
“What is it?” he asks. “What’s wrong?”
“Remus,” she says, her voice trembling.
They peer into the pool together, anxious to see what had befallen their friend. You are scornful, and disbelieving. The werewolf? The werewolf was the cause of all this pain? She cares more about the werewolf than she does for you, a nasty voice whispers in the back of your brain. You shove the thought away, but the bitterness lingers.
A moment later, the second man cries, “Dora? Dora, what the heck do you think you’re doing?” Then, as she puts an arm around him comfortingly, he adds, “Stupid girl! Oh, Dora!” With a sob, he buries his head in her shoulder.
They try to comfort him. “We’ll get to see them again,” she says.
“Yeah, imagine Remus’ face when Dora and Suzy go off to compare notes about them!” But they know it’s no use.
Finally, the first man says, “We should go now, Padfoot. They’ll be here any moment.”
The second man nods and starts off, but the other one lingers a moment, asking, “You coming?”
She shakes her head. “You two go. I want to check on Harry.”
“Are you sure?” he asks. Grudgingly, you have to admit that he does care about her, in his own way. The look in his eyes is so tender it is impossible to believe otherwise.
“I’m sure,” she says gently. Then she does something that shatters your already broken heart. She reaches up and kisses him, straight on the lips. It’s not so much the action that pains you as the casual way she does it. No, not casual. Every kiss is dear to them, that is clear. But it’s so natural, so right, that you just can’t bear it.
When he is gone, she turns back to the pool. You are closer now, close enough to see what she is watching. Vaugly, in the back of your mind, you remember yelling at Potter about his stalker-like activities. You are a bit hypocritical, you admit. But you don't really care.
She reaches out and swirls the water with one finger. “Harry Potter,” she says, enunciating.
The water darkens, and shapes form in it. You recognize the two boys and the girl that are pictured there, and your scowl deepens. Of course she checks up on them, you think sullenly, but not on you. Oh, no, of course not on you.
That’s not fair, your sensible self says. Most days, that sensible self is gone, buried deep in your memories of betrayal and despair. But now it reminds you, That’s her son. Of course she watches him!
The girl and the redheaded boy are shaking their heads, frantically looking at their friend. Something has clearly happened that has them very, very worried. “Don’t listen to him,” the redhead urges.
“It’ll be all right,” the girl echoes, looking at the black-haired boy desperately. “Let’s – let’s get back to the castle, if he’s gone to the Forest we’ll need to think of a new plan-” It is clear that she is terribly upset as she glances to the ground, and the three of them leave the room.
She leans forward over the pool, swirling it with one finger. “Show me what Hermione was looking at,” she instructs it. The picture shifts, and with a jolt you recognize your own body lying there on the ground.
“No,” she gasps. To your shock (and guilty delight) there are tears running down her cheeks. “No! Not Severus, please not Sev!” She turns, not going anywhere but away, and runs straight into your chest.
Automatically, you grab her, pulling her close to you. Murmuring her name, you finally hold her in your arms. She looks at you, and for a moment she hesitates. Then she smiles the smile you’ve been dreaming about since before you went to Hogwarts. She hugs you, and buries her head in your chest. “I’ve missed you,” she says. “Even when I was still alive, I missed you.”
“Not as much as I missed you,” you tell her.
She smiles sadly. “I know,” she whispers. “I would watch you, you know. When James was off doing other stuff. Gideon and Fabian were so kind, always willing to distract him whenever I wanted to see you.” Her face suddenly hardens, and she pulls away from you.
“What is it?” you ask, worried.
“Sev…” She hesitates for a moment, then takes the plunge. “Sev, you know I always just saw you as a friend, right?”
“I know,” you say. Your feeling of dread is increasing, but at the same time, you knew this was coming. No matter what she said, she was in love with him, not with you.
“I do love you,” she tells you softly. “But never like that, never like I love James.” She must see something in your face that scares her, because she hurries to ask, “Can we still be friends, Sev? Please? You don’t know how much I’ve missed you! It’s more than just the fact that you left a gaping hole behind–”
“You broke it off with me,” you remind her accusingly before you can stop yourself.
“Can you blame me?” she demands, and then you’re fighting again. But not really, because you know she's right.
“No,” you whisper. “No, I don’t blame you at all.”
Instantly the fight goes out of her. “Oh, Sev, I’m so sorry. I hated doing that, but I had no choice! It wasn’t so much that you called me Mudblood–”
“Don’t say that word!” you snap at her.
“Why not?” she demands, in the same tone as before. But this time you’re not fighting. It’s like it was years ago, when the two of you would spend endless hours debating various subjects. “I’m a Muggle-born, Sev. A Mudblood. And I’m proud of it. Why not be? It was a Mudblood that saved Harry’s life the night I died. And a Mudblood who’s saved it time and time again since then.”
“The Granger girl,” you say.
She smiles, and you have to smile back. “Yes, Hermione.”
“I hated her,” you say.
“I noticed,” she says. “Even more than the other muggle-borns, you always would pick on her.”
“It was because of you,” you confess. “She reminded me of you, and of me, and I couldn’t stand it!”
She smiles. “That’s all right,” she says soothingly, and though you know that it’s not all right, you can’t help but believe her. “She’ll know in the end what you did for her.”
“I didn’t do anything for her,” you say. “I did it for you.”
For a moment, everything is perfect. You’re talking with the girl you love once more, and she’s talking with you. She doesn’t love you, not the way you love her, but you think you might be content with the friendship she’s offered you. You know that soon her husband will return with his friends and that they’ll likely tear you to shreds just for talking with her, but you also know that she’ll defend you, just as she used to all those years ago. They don’t matter. What matters is that you, Severus Snape, are once again with the girl you love, Lily Evans (you’ll never think of her as Lily Potter). And you know that that means that you truly have died and gone to Heaven.