It was twenty past two in the morning when Severus Snape arrived at the graveyard on the edge of the Hogwarts grounds.
Severus Snape had never considered that he may be regarded as a hero of the second wizarding war. He had been a spy, of course, but a rather unlikeable one. Even those that could appreciate his sacrifice had not given him the impression they cared so much as to place a wooden cross above where his body had fallen. All of that considered, he was certain that he was remembered for being the one who failed to save the golden girl of Hogwarts when the shrieking shack was set aflame. No, he had not expected to be buried with the heros at the memorial for the Battle of Hogwarts.
But he was wrong.
Plain as the moon lit night above their heads, there was a large marble stone bearing his name. He knelt in the dewy grass and traced his fingers over the engravings as if they were smudges of caked on mud that he could smooth away. The monument, larger than nearly all others, was polished into a near mirror like state, not neglected or forgotten at all.
They had remembered him. Despite his cruelty they had regarded him as a hero. Some poor students had taken the time to sweep the ground where they two of them had fallen, place the ash inside an urn and bury it below a stone amongst the honorable wizards and witches that had been lost. Someone had cared about him enough to notice that he was gone.
He could see the girl’s stone off in the distance, a shoulder up bust of her young face a top of a several foot tall base where he suspected that they’d put the other half of the swept ash. To think that they had fallen in that shack in one another's arms but were placed so far apart in death was almost fitting. Dying together didn’t necessarily mean they belonged together. And he couldn't blame them. Everyone at Hogwarts had known his cruelty to the girl. The names he had spat at her intelligent answers and precocious demeanor were nothing short of unforgivable.
A hand rested every to lightly on his shoulder to catch his attention and he reached around to clamp down upon it. A nearly wordless question waited for him like a package on the front stoop of the witch’s mind and he let out of huff of exasperation.
Ready? She asked, imagining the two of them walking hand in hand towards the forbidden forest. I’m tired.
“In just a moment, love.” Snape let go, grit his teeth and pushed up slowly from the wet ground. The slack weight strapped to his back, breathing softly into the side of his neck, had appeared to become heavier throughout the journey as he had grown weaker. “I am not the young man I used to be.” He rose slowly and steadied his feet, letting the dizziness wash over him and subside.
Hungry? The words were nearly thrown at him but he caught them the way he had grown used to over the years. Barely waiting for a response the witch reached into her bag with her one free hand and pulled out a sleeve of stale biscuits.
“Thank you.” Severus accepted two of the man frowned at the silent girl as she reached to put them back in the leather messenger bag. “No, you must eat as well. There is still several hours of walking ahead of us.”
The figure shook her bushy curls and kept reaching to put the sweets back in her bag. I can’t, I feel sick.
“Damn you!” He snapped and took one from his own grip then hoisted it into hers. “You have to keep up your strength.”
Reluctantly, and with a slight tremor in her movements, Hermione nibbled on the fluted edge of the sweet and watched her companion do the same. Monroe?
Snape set his jaw and shook his head. “Asleep, dear. The draught I gave each of them will be strong enough to keep them quiet until daybreak.”
How is your pain? She wondered with a concerned doe eyed look towards his mangled, but long since healed, leg.
“After all we’ve seen, the pain is a welcome reminder.”
“Yes, my dearest.”
Together they reached the forbidden forest and Snape remained acutely aware of his surroundings. They watched their steps, trying not to rustle leaves or snap twigs. Silence was their only reprieve. In the darkness they were hard to see and he knew well that one could not kill something one didn’t know was there. All Severus needed to do was find the right hollowed out tree and hope that no one had found what he had stored within it in the years they’d been gone.
Shortly before the sun could creep up over the horizon and bring light to their movements, after checking nearly a dozen different hiding spots he had used over the years, Snape let out a sigh of sweet relief. His fingers warped around the pocket watch he had left and he pulled it from the tree, brushing it free of the soggy decay that coated it’s surface.
The one? Hermione imagined him flicking it open and finding it containing what her husband needed. In her girlish years of innocence she would have believed that they had come too far to fail. They had too much to lose. There was no possibility the world was cruel enough to let it end that way. But with time she had found the truth much more complicated. Not only was the world that intentionally cruel, but it could be worsened if any missteps were taken. One could make the mistake of hoping at all, giving fate the power to break their heart.
Snape nodded to her, smiling at the way she let out a sigh of relief when the girl’s vision rang true. The small green vile was the last step of their long journey. Carefully wedging the cork free, fearing that his potion would be ruined should it crumble, Snape brought the liquid to his dry cracked lips and took it down with one swallow. He felt a rush of something both long lost and all too familiar under his skin and knew with the age of the mixture that he only had seconds before the new magic left him. Pulling the girl to his chest, he remembered a place. There was a sliver of grass, towering red brick mills, a decaying waterwheel atop a dark dingy river and black painted shut windows with foggy warped glass. Dark leather and wood pieces of furniture were draped in white sheets and dishes lined the kitchen shelves with a thick layer of dust. Even in its state of grime and disrepair, it was the place he’d spent the last five years dreaming of. Their sanctuary. Safety, warmth and access to his potions laboratory, which he knew knew the girl tucked under his arms would not live another day without.
“Home,” He whispered and off they went.