Chapter 1 : The Park
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I suppose I should feel the pain, but I don't. I can only think of one thing as the life is slipping out from under me. I think of her and how I have failed her. I can no longer protect her son, can’t share with him the secret of stopping the Dark Lord. The truth that he has long searched for, blind to the knowledge that his death is the only thing that lies at the end of this road.
A jolt of pain breaks through my numbness and I force my eyes open. When the blurriness clears, I can see the face I’ve spent so many years staring at coming towards me. He is here. The foolish boy. Hiding right under the Dark Lord’s nose. Doesn't he know how much has been sacrificed to keep him alive? How many people Dumbledore has sacrificed to keep him going? But it is fortunate that he takes after his blessed father in that way. I close my eyes and think of all the things I want him to know. To understand. They come pouring out of me and with a deep breath I pull myself together.
“Take it... Take it...”
I can barely hear the shuffling that goes on as I struggle to hold on, long enough for him to collect the only things of value I have left.
“Look... at… me...”
And I was a child once more, looking into Lily's bright green eyes with my whole life ahead of me. If what I did in the last years of my life makes any difference, maybe I'll get to see her again.
I let the image of the green eyes burn into me as my own grow heavy. The boy has what he needs now; all I can think of is letting go. Slipping away from this God forsaken world that has never been anything but cruel to me.
When I open my eyes I’m in another, completely different place. I look around, trying to get some sort of clue as to my whereabouts. If this is the afterlife, Dumbledore has some explaining to do. He should be here. But nobody is here, there is only white fog, cornering me from all angles. I take a step in one direction, deciding to see for myself what's going on. As my foot touches the ground, I feel grass and discover that I am naked. Not only did I get sent to limbo, I got sent to limbo naked. Maybe I'm supposed to repent my sins in order to get clothes.
As soon as the thought comes to mind, I feel them appear. Black robes. The ones I always wore. After putting them on I look at the ground once more, my fingers lightly touching the grass,as I crouch to get a better look. In the mist, I can see something else. It looks like a metal pole and I straighten myself, approaching it to investigate. It’s a child's swing. My heart rises in my throat as I realize where I must be. Where the greater force took me. The only place I remember feeling happy. I am in my childhood park where Lily and I spent our summers.
The mist lifts and there it is. The small park, in all it's glory. With the swing from which Lily swung to scare Petunia and the flower patches where she made the flowers bloom. The tree that had a branch fall over the Muggle girl and made Lily so mad. I can almost see the red hair appearing in the distance, wanting to play and talk, like she did so many times before war and death separated us.
The red hair is coming closer and I grip the metal pole of the swing to keep myself from falling over. There she is. My Lily, still twenty years old, still as beautiful as the day I last saw her. It dawns on me that I am now old and broken and I don't want her seeing me like this. But she doesn't seem to care. She's running towards me now, her smile wide, her eyes happy and her arms extended towards me. I smile beside myself.
She finally reaches me and jumps to hug me. I warp my arms around her and breathe in the scent of her hair, feel her small frame in my arms and I feel like crying. I've waited so long for this moment.
“Oh Sev! Oh my brave Sev! Thank you! Thank you for my son,” she whispers as her arms circle around me and her head buries in my chest.
I don't know what to say to her so I simply keep my grip, holing tightly on to her. She breaks apart too soon and takes my hand, pulling me towards the small clearing where we used to sit on the grass. As we sit down she never lets go of my hand. I look at her. Lily. My best friend. My love. I take in each one of her gentle features as if fearing she'll disappear. Like she did once before. When I sold her. I feel the panic rising up and know that I must say something. Tell her how sorry I am that because of what I did she never had the chance to raise her son. Never had the chance to live her life.
“Lily... Lily, I'm sorry. All these years, all this time, every day I've been so, so sorry...” I begin but she stops me. She smiles and her small hand touches my face.
“I know. I've known every day. I've seen everything and I know. And you are very much forgiven. Always,” she says and her eyes are wide and honest.
“But Lily... If only I hadn't spoken of the prophecy. If only I would've waited,” I reply and shake my head, hiding my face in my hands.
“You aren’t to blame, Severus. Somebody else knew our location and gave it away. I know. I've been watching over you all these years. I've seen what you did for our son. We know how much it took out of you to lead a double life,” she says in a gentle voice as she tilts my head up to look at her.
“But still, I got to live a life. You did not.” I shake my head and the bitterness falls over me.
If only she had lived. It dawns on me that she had been speaking about “them” instead of “her” and I look around. We're alone. Potter, for some reason, decided that the after life was finally the moment to allow me some time with Lily. I turn to look at her and her eyes are happy. She is at peace. I have so many things to ask her but I can't decide which one should be first.
“Why are we here?”
“It's the place where it all started. When you die, you go to the place where it all started. I came to this park as well, before I was reunited with James. Because for me, for us, the story began here. James was in his childhood home and Sirius was in the Gryffindor common room.” she explains while gesturing around with her hand.
That's why she's here. At the beginning of it all. I never thought of it that way but it makes sense. Sometimes you meet people and you don't remember what your life was like before them. My life, before Lily. An endless parade of dark days and even darker nights in a house that was never a home. This journey, the one that took me to this point, started with Lily. It's only fitting that it end with her as well.
“Are we alone?”
“For the moment, yes. We'll go meet up with the others later, whenever you feel comfortable.” Her tone is confident and it dawns on me that she must have done this so many times before. She's been dead a very long time, indeed.
“I can't say I'll ever be comfortable meeting up with Potter and Black. It's not quite how I pictured it,” I reply, unable to restrain myself.
She laughs, the sound of it identical to a gentle gust of wind on a hot day. Calming and bringing relief.
“It's not like that here, Severus. There are so many others. Dumbledore, Marlene, even your mother. They're all here. This is not a place where we hold on to the mundane things that separated us in life. There is no good or evil here. There are no right or wrong choices. It's only peace.”
A sound in the trees behind us disturbs our moment and I turn to look at the new comer. James Potter stands there, hands in his pockets, the same stupid mop of black hair on his head that never ceased to follow me around. In the corner of my eye I can see Lily nodding and he starts walking towards us, stopping a little distance away.
“We’ve had a few more coming through,” Potter begins, his voice bridging the gap between us. “I just came from meeting Remus and his wife. Sirius stayed behind with them. One of Molly's twins came as well. He's confused for the moment but Remus caught on pretty quickly what was going on and is staying with him. We're gonna have a hard time with his wife though. She wants to go back to her son.”
My insides turn to ice as he delivers the news. The battle is still in motion. It's easy to forget about it with the peace surrounding me. Lupin and Nymphadora are dead and so is one of the Weasley boys. I remember teaching them. They were quite displeasing for my taste but still, they are so young. Too young to be here.
“You know it's like that when they’re young. They can't grasp the concept of dying and all of this,” she says as she looks around. “I'll talk to Remus' wife when we meet up with them. I still remember what it's like. The feeling of leaving your baby boy behind.” The last words are delivered with a slight sigh.
Her voice is sad and the look on her face mirrors that feeling. I feel the guilt tugging at my insides once more and I open my mouth to speak, but I don't know what to say to her. To them.
“Which boy is it?” I ask and he turns to look at me with a curious expression on his face.
“Which boy is what?” he asks in return.
“Which Weasley boy is it? The one that didn't make it,” I explain and think about the battle when one of them nearly got himself cursed off a broom. How many times can you escape death? I wonder, without making it angry.
“Fred. He's anxious and he's looking for his brother,” he says and kicks a stone on the ground, sending bits of dust into the air. The silence is starting to weight on us and I feel that he is expecting me to say something. I feel Lily's soft hand on my own and I look at her. She is urging me to go on, to say what I want to say. She always did read me like a book.
“Potter... I...” I want to say something but the words don't come out.
“Snape... There's no need. We know. We saw everything that happened. There was a lot of stuff going on between us, there always has been and there always will be. I have no excuse for how I treated you and you have no excuse for how you treated my son. But you gave your life protecting him and that makes up for it in my book,” he says and extends his hand to me.
I look at him, James Potter, standing there with his hand extended, but I can't seem to find it in me to give him a nasty reply. Maybe this is the peace Lily spoke of. The absence of hate, jealousy and spite. I extend my own hand and shake his, looking into his eyes for a trace of insincerity. There is none.
He turns to his wife and she goes to hug him. As he wraps his arms around my Lily I expect the rage and the fire to wash over me once more. However, it seems out of place in this setting. She smiles at me and I smile back.
“Come on, Sev! Let's go see the others!” she calls as the two of them start walking towards the exit of the park.
My thoughts drift towards my mother and the last time I was with her her. Suddenly, I realize how desperately I want to see her again.
My name is Severus Snape and Voldemort's last plan brought me something I never suspected could still exist for me. It brought me peace.
Happy birthday Debra20!
This one shot-one was a result of the fact that she really likes Snape and I wanted to give her a happy ending for him! I want to thank Jchrissy for beta-reading and giving me some amazing ideas and pointers!
The lines in italics from the first part of the story are from "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows", UK edition, chapter 32, "The Elder Wand", page 528. Characters and places belong to JK Rowling.
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