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Rosa canina

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Small Snack ficlet, PG-13. Rosa canina
Title: Rosa canina
Pairing: Severus Snape/Sirius Black
Rating: PG-13
Beta: The ever-patient, ultra-competent [info]cassandra7 Thank you.
Warnings: Vanilla, no sex--hey, I know why people read my stuff!--
Disclaimer: Jo's world. Not mine. Alas!

Rosa Canina

Pomona Sprout, sobbing, told him to take whatever flowers he wanted and continued to wander among the rich beds of the greenhouse, touching a leaf here, a blossom there, blowing her nose in a wet handkerchief.

Harry cut white flowers and tied them together with a piece of twine. He ignored most of the cards with the Latin and common names—who cared?—but Sirius would have barked a laugh at a tiny flower called "Bristol Fairy."

Professor Sprout thought the flowers were for Dumbledore. He didn't correct her.

Ron and Hermione were silent when he went up to get the invisibility cloak after everyone else had gone to bed. When he returned and picked up the flowers, they'd been arranged more gracefully and were tied with a soft white ribbon. He suspected they'd also been charmed to last. He looked at Hermione, and she smiled.

They walked to Hogsmeade with him and waited while he put on the cloak and Disapparated.

When Sirius's pardon had finally been granted, Remus said that he'd place a memorial stone for him. Where, Harry asked. Godric's Hollow? Godric's Hollow meant nothing good to Sirius, said Remus, but that there was a small cemetery overlooking the sea, a corner of it overrun with dog roses, that Sirius would have liked. Sirius had spent a summer nearby once and been happy.

They'd gone together. It was a low, flat stone, white marble, with nothing carved on it. Remus said there was no need for an inscription. Those who remembered would remember and no one else mattered.

When Harry arrived at the cemetery, it was dark and windy, clouds obscuring the moon and shadowing the sea. The wrought iron gate was open, and he slipped through. His feet on the gravel path were unheard with the crashing surf at the bottom of the cliff.

He walked towards the back corner and saw that there was someone else at Sirius's grave. He'd expected to be alone on this anniversary, one year after his death, and so late at night.

A man, a black cloak pulled close around him. Harry knew the silhouette, but it wasn't, it couldn't—A cloud passed off the moon, and in the pale light the profile was unmistakable.

Severus Snape.

Traitor. Murdering Death Eater. Rage filled Harry's throat, and he grabbed his wand to strike. Then he took a deep breath. This was a place to remember and honour Sirius, and he didn't want to sully that. There would be another place, another time, for him to destroy Snape. He stood silently and watched.

Snape went down on one knee in front of the low stone and seemed to be speaking, though Harry couldn't make out the words. He thought he heard a sob, but it must have been the sea.

His face in his hand, Snape didn't move for a long time, and Harry held equally still, not wanting to disturb this intensely private moment.

The glow was silvery when Snape pulled his wand from his cloak. He moved it over the smooth marble, seeming to draw something.

The fall of his hair hid Snape's face as he leaned over and—Harry suppressed a gasp of surprise and distaste. Snape touched his lips to the stone and then stood upright in front of it. The wind caught his cloak and hair. Both billowed around him, and Harry shuddered at the wildness of this wizard.

Whatever it was that Snape had drawn on Sirius's monument cast its silver light over the marble,

Snape's head bent for a long moment. Then he brought his right arm across his chest and held his wand over his heart.

Harry was as frozen by the tableau as Snape was in his posture of respect, as incongruous as his earlier gesture of—it couldn't have been love. As Snape lowered his wand and turned to leave, the moon illuminated tears on his face. He Disapparated.

Harry knelt where Snape had. A faint drawing shone on what had been unmarked. Snape had inscribed a constellation on the stone, Canis Major with the Dog Star. Sirius—the brightest star in the night sky.

He put his flowers on the marble and stood, troubled. He had seen pain and tenderness as Snape had paid his respects to the man everyone would have said had been his enemy

Harry walked away. He didn't know the story and probably never would. Remus might know, but he suspected Remus wouldn't tell him. Before he Disapparated, he looked back and found himself hoping that Snape had found some solace at Sirius's grave.

A year later they buried Severus Snape at Hogwarts, not far from Dumbledore. The night before, Harry had slipped into the casket the vial of Snape's dark memories, the ones Harry had needed.

At dawn, Harry stood with Hermione and Ron and watched, his tears surprising him, as the flames engulfed his old antagonist and ally. Who had given twenty years and at last his life, all he had and was, to achieve this victory. And who had kept one secret.

Two days later Harry brought back a cutting from the dog rose, Rosa canina, its open blossoms now flourishing around Sirius's memorial. He planted it at the simple black stone that marked Snape's grave.