A/N: There's no Romione contact in this chapter, since it's really about Snape and the new respect that everyone has for him. I've always believed Snape to be a good man, even when I read that he killed Dumbledore. I never believed him to be a bad person. When he died in DH, I felt that someone must do him justice, after all his sacrifices. So, here it is.
She watched as Ron was drawn into Mrs Weasley's arms in an embrace that seemed to squeeze all the blood into his face. But he didn't seem to mind. Smiling, yet feeling slightly alone, Hermione turned and walked into the corridors in which many memories of laughter, bickering and tears lingered.
She walked, not fully aware where she was heading, her mind wandering back to the day she and the other new Gryffindors had followed Percy's instructions towards the common room. She smiled to herself, remembering how she had believed herself to be so in control of her world back then. Innocence was not something she had ever consciously contemplated; yet now, she realised that she had lost her innocence quite as quickly as Harry. Having encountered tasks that were meant for mature, powerful wizards as a first-year and enduring through fears and knowledge that were meant not for the light-hearted, she indeed had lost her innocence rather early. Wondering how it would've been like had she not met Harry and Ron and gone through the countless – and often rule-breaking – adventures, she climbed the first flight of stairs she saw. Even after the severe damage done to the castle, the stairs had not forgotten to move.
Hermione, now glancing about her and smiling to the portraits who bowed to her in appreciation for her efforts in defeating Voldemort, did not seem surprised to find the staircase had stopped in front of the corridor that led up to Dumbledore's – well, McGonagall's now – office. Accepting the fate bestowed upon her by the stairs, she marched forward, hoping she might be of some help to Harry and Professor McGonagall.
Upon reaching the door, she could hear Harry's voice, low but steady. She knocked and it was Mr Weasley who answered the door. He smiled weakly at her and allowed her entrance. The Order was here, save Mrs Weasley, Lupin and Tonks. They sat in a circle, deeply engrossed in Harry's story; some wore expressions of guilt, some with disbelief, but all with surprise.
"… Dum..Dumbledore knew he had only a year or so left, so he asked Snape to.. to kill him, instead of letting Malfoy execute Voldemort's orders."
The room with heavy with silence. Bill exhaled loudly as he leant back into his chair, astounded by the truth of the situation. Kingsley's brow knitted even tighter together, as he contemplated the mental torment that Snape must have endured all this time. George, his eyes empty from the loss of his twin, wore a faint look of surprise. "What was the sorting hat thinking, not sorting him into Gryffindor..?" Hermione had rather hoped it was George, having finally returned to his old self; but Bill was the one who commented.
Harry, as though sensing Hermione's presence, turned and smiled faintly at her, seemingly relieved that she was here to give him strength. For strength was certainly what he needed right now, to tell the truth. The brutal truth.
"That day, when George lost his ear, Snape was trying to protect Professor Lupin from a Death Eater. The curse missed and hit George instead. While he was here in Hogwarts, he tried to keep the Carrows in check; Neville - " he nodded at Neville, who looked pale and distraught," - will tell you more about that later. Professor Snape… he… I've just been so wrong about him. When he killed Dumbledore, it was as if he didn't care. He had shown no sign of remorse – he didn't even flinch!" Harry began to mumble, more to himself than anyone else. At this, Hermione conjured a chair beside him and took a seat. She placed her hand on his shoulder and smiled encouragingly when she saw his guilt radiating from his eyes.
Professor McGonagall was the first to recover from the stunned silence. "I think it would be safe for me to say, on behalf of all of us, that Professor Snape deserves a proper, respectable funeral, given all he has done for us. For Dumbledore. For you, Mr Potter." Harry could only nod. His hatred for Snape had subsided when he broke away from the Pensieve. Snape had not forgotten his task even in his dying breath.
It could not be said that Harry had come to like him, for childhood scars did not heal easily; but profound respect he certainly held for the man who had loved his mother for so long. It was almost ironic that he once believed Snape to be perfectly incapable of harbouring emotions or feelings. And the loyalty. Harry had always believed that none other could be as loyal to Dumbledore as Ron, Hermione and himself – well, once again, Snape proved him wrong. It was as though he was beginning to truly understand and know this man, yet he now lay silently in the Shrieking Shack, never to wake again. Yes, Professor McGonagall was right. Snape deserved a proper funeral, and recognition for the sacrifices he had made.
Never truly believing that Snape could be as evil as Harry portrayed him to be, Hermione, nonetheless, still sat in shock. Harry had told her and Ron earlier about the story of Snape, though Ron had only nodded absent-mindedly to the story. Snape was in love with Lily all this time… even when she had gone and married someone he hated, he still loved her; even when she had died, he guarded what was most precious to her. After all these years, he still found solace in traces of her – Harry, the letter bearing her signature and love, the photos of her. Hermione couldn't help but let her thoughts wander to the red-headed boy – most certainly crushed by his mother's embrace by now – and wondered if he would ever love her like that. True, she wasn't even certain if he did, indeed, love her right now; but she wondered nonetheless.
"I'll plan it." Hermione found herself saying. Every person in the room turned to watch her, and she cowered slightly from the intensity of their gazes. Checking herself, she sat up straighter; "I'll plan the funeral. Does he have any immediate, or any, family?"
"Not that I've heard of. He was the only child, his parents died years ago and he never married," replied Professor McGonagall. No parents, no siblings, no wife, no children. As Hermione looked round the room, everyone had their head bowed in guilt – they, at least, had each other; Snape had been isolated, hated, friendless. Harry looked at Hermione, looking determined about something. "Hermione, I'm planning it with you. He saved me countless times. It's the least I could do." She could only nod.
Professor McGonagall was watching him, a tinge of pride and understanding behind her eyes.
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