Chapter 26 : Epilogue
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August 4, 1985
“Hand me the frame, will you, love?” Severus stood in the living room, having just put in a row of tacks on the wall.
James handed him the picture frame in question, keeping an eye on Antony and Harry, who were coloring at the dining room table. Antony was significantly taller than his brother, and thinner. He had curly black hair, and eyes like honey, and a smile to charm everyone. Harry was shyer, with messy hair and eyes that sparkled like emeralds. His hair covered his scar, which was just as well.
Severus hung the frame and stepped back, putting up the next three. A family portrait, two school photos, and a class picture. He put his hands on his waist, studying the array, and nodded. “Good?”
James rolled his eyes. “It would have been fine twenty minutes ago, before you changed your mind three times about how you wanted it arranged.”
Severus ignored him.
“Daddy!” Antony cried, holding up his sheet of paper. “Come look!”
James went into the kitchen to look. Antony stood on the chair, pointing. “I drew Mummy and Mama and Atlas together in heaven with the angels.”
Atlas had been their cat. James patted him on the head. “Good work. I like Mummy’s hair.”
Antony had drawn Lily’s hair as a mass of fire. He grinned up at James, and pointed at one of the angels. “That one’s name is Howard.”
James laughed. “Howard, huh? Nice name.”
Antony looked over for Severus. “Papa! Papa, come look at my drawing.”
James stepped over, putting a hand on Harry’s head. “How’re you doing, bucko?”
Harry had drawn all of them as a family, standing in front of their house.
“Look at that,” Severus said, looking at Antony’s drawing. “Looks just like your mother.”
“Right down to the big smile,” Severus said, smiling at his son. “You got her smile.”
James and Severus looked up at a crisp knock on the door. They hardly ever got visitors. “Who d’you suppose that is?” James asked.
Antony ran to the front window and peered out. “It’s a lady!” he called. James heard a chuckle as he went to the door.
There was a woman standing there, in a crisp blouse and slacks, with her hair pulled up in a bun behind her head. “Mr. Potter?” she asked.
James frowned. “Yes? What can I do for you?”
“Mr. Potter, my name is Anna Knowles. I would like to get your and Mr. Snape’s permission to work on something.”
Severus stepped forward, a frown on his own face. “What might that be?”
“A biography,” I answered, “Of the last few years of your late wife’s life.”
I sipped at a cup of earl gray, studying their living room. The south wall was covered in photographs, a shrine to family. All in all, there was only two of the parents of either man, twelve of Cassandra, nine of Lily, and thirty eight of anything involving either Harry or Antony.
The two boys in question regarded me as something new and exciting, and watched me from underneath the kitchen sink, a colander and a soup pot for hats. I smiled at them and they ducked inside the cupboard with a bang.
Severus paced, refusing to look at me. “Why?” he asked at length. “Why would you want to dredge all that up?”
“Don’t call her by that name.” he snapped at me.
“Mrs. Snape was a remarkable woman, Mr. Snape,” I said, returning to formality. “Or at least from what little I know of her. I promise you, Mr. Snape, I don’t mean to make this sensationalized drivel—I want people to see your wife for who she really was.”
“Why?” James asked. “What makes you care about Cassandra’s reputation?”
I sipped at the tea. I saw two aging house elves watching me suspiciously from around the corner. They vanished as soon as they noticed me looking. “Professionally, it is actually not the wisest of career moves. People don’t buy biographies because they want people humanized. Professionally, I have no reason at all. Personally?” I set down my tea. “Personally, her life fascinates me. Tell me truly, Mr. Potter—did you ever meet someone quite as extraordinary as Cassandra Diamond?”
Severus stood, staring at the wall of pictures. He was quiet for a long moment. “Miss Knowles,” he said coldly, after a while. “What on earth makes you think I want someone telling my wife’s story without knowing her as I did?”
“That is why I came here, Mr. Snape,” I said. “There’s more to every life than just the facts.”
Severus covered his eyes with his hand. “If you write everything down, Miss Knowles, society will not be as kind of what happened as you might like.”
“Frankly, Mr. Snape, I don’t give a damn what society thinks. If you’ll pardon my language.” I folded my hands together. “I’m not looking to make your wife a saint, or justify things she did—I’m only trying to humanize her. After six years of being demonized by the general public, that is the most controversial thing a person can do when talking about your wife—regard her as a real human being.”
James looked at Severus.
The cabinet door opened and Antony crawled out, still wearing a colander on his head. He wielded a wooden spoon like a wand, pointing it at me. “You write stories?”
I nodded. “I do indeed. Lots of stories. True ones, mostly.”
“And you’re gonna write a story about Mama?”
“If your parents let me, I would love to,” I replied.
Antony looked at me shrewdly, as only a five year old can. Then he looked at his fathers. “Papa,” he said. “Papa, did Mama like stories?”
Severus looked down, and put his hand on Antony’s hair. “It’s not that simple, son.”
I stood, knowing I had already outstayed my welcome. “Here’s my card,” I said, handing it to James. “Let me know when you make a decision.”
As I walked to the door, James called—“Miss Knowles!”
I turned. “Yes, Mr. Potter?”
“Do you have kids, Miss Knowles?”
I shook my head. “I’m afraid not, Mr. Potter… but I have loved a few people that my friends, family, and society in general deemed unacceptable.” I tugged absentmindedly at the sleeves of my jacket. “That is not the reason I’m interested in telling Mrs. Snape’s story.”
“Of course not,” James said as Severus shepherded the two boys out into the backyard. “But I am curious… why now?”
I managed a weary smile. “Why now? Why anytime? I could do it now, or I could do it ten years from now, it doesn’t matter… but if I don’t do it, who will?”
After a moment, James nodded. “I suppose I can understand that.”
I looked at the wall of photos. “You know, they were both very pretty. I used to want to look like girls like them.”
James looked over my somewhat dreary businesswoman attire. “What happened?”
“I realized I look better in pants,” I said, giving a smile. “Every woman has her strengths, Mr. Potter. Mine is telling the stories of other people. Cassandra Snape’s was telling stories that everyone would believe.”
“No,” James replied, shaking his head. “Cassandra’s strength was knowing when to stop telling stories.”
I gazed at him for a moment, and then nodded. “You would know far better than I.”
3 AM November 1, 1981
Dumbledore gently led both men away from Godric’s Hollow, promising to look after the corpses of their wives. James carried Harry in his arms, staring at the ground. Severus looked everywhere but at Dumbledore.
Ministry officials arrived, having only just realized that Cassandra Snape was not where she should have been.
Before anyone could stop him, Severus broke one man’s nose, knocking him to the ground. “The one time we fucking needed you watching her,” he snarled, “The one time I would have been fucking grateful for those wards, and you let her die.”
James grasped Severus’s shoulder, pulling him back and wrapping an arm around him. He said nothing, but he didn’t need to. Severus gave the man a kick in the ribs for good measure, and went. He didn’t really blame the Ministry for what had happened to Cassandra—he blamed himself.
Neither man slept that night. Severus paced, and when he did not pace, he pulled out every photograph of Cassandra he possessed, looking at them over and over again. He took her wedding ring and put it on a chain, which he wore around his neck. He snapped at the house elves, he threw plates at the kitchen wall.
James sat in the nursery with Harry and Antony. He wept quietly, trying not to wake the two boys. Cassandra’s letter lay open on the floor… in two pieces from where Severus had ripped it in half and thrown it across the room. It was James who had picked up the two pieces, and read it a hundred times that night.
At least Severus had a final goodbye from his wife.
James only had Lily’s one wish that he be safe, and not get hurt.
He paced silently around the nursery, and when he could no longer bear it he went into the bathroom and shattered a mirror, shouting incoherently.
And when the sun came up, Cassandra and Lily were still dead.
Morning dawned on Spinner’s End, and two men sat silent, sons in arm, lost in the darkness of their own grief. James sat next to Severus on the end of the bed. “We have to plan a funeral,” he said softly. “We have to… we have to let people know what happened.”
Severus nodded, staring at the bed. Cassandra’s clothes still lay crumpled at the foot of the bed. They still smelled like her soap and perfume. Her shoes were still next to the door, her makeup and toothbrush still on the bathroom counter. And it was hard, so hard, to know that he would never again wake up beside her, or see her smile, or listen to her fawning over Antony.
He would get older, and in his memory Cassandra would always be twenty two years old.
He wanted her alive, but the more Severus thought about it, the more he realized that she must have believed this the only thing she could do.
She hadn’t wanted to lose James, and she had been willing to die for him.
“Severus,” James said, putting his hand on the other man’s shoulder. “I love you.”
Severus looked at him, knowing that without Cassandra; he probably would have died hating James. “I love you too.”
Later that day, James would write to all of his and Lily’s old friends. He would tell them what had happened, and how Cassandra had saved his life.
Severus would write to only two people—the only two he could think would care at all: Narcissa Malfoy and Rosier. He didn’t particularly want either at the funeral, but he didn’t think he could bear to be alone with the people James called friends.
They had lost the women they loved… but at least they weren’t unsupported.
Without Cassandra, things might have been very different.
Without Cassandra, Severus would realize, he would have spent the remaining years of his life alone.
Without Cassandra, James Potter would have died, and Antony Snape would never have been born. Sirius Black would have been accused and convicted of murder, and Peter Pettigrew would have got away with it for twelve years. Harry Potter would have been raised as an orphan.
All of this was prevented by several very unusual agreements.
Cassandra Diamond was no ordinary woman. She had no extraordinary magical talent, no especial academic skill, but there was one thing that separated her from everyone else.
It wasn’t her lies.
It was how very much she loved the men she called her family.
That—dear reader—was why I wanted to write about Cassandra Diamond’s life.
Someone had to.
The End… for now