|Live, My Son
Author: Renatus PM
COMPLETE. AU now...Following the cryptic orders of his only Mentor, Severus searches for life after living through death, and finds the answer among a group he never expected to find. Bittersweet.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Severus S. - Words: 5,731 - Reviews: 40 - Favs: 46 - Follows: 6 - Published: 07-10-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2478806
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: This is a short, random little vignette, the idea of which has been running around in my head for some time. I had thought of making this a longer story, but figured that the plot wasn't quite strong enough for anything extensive. It was, however, quite persistent to be written, so I obliged.
Disclaimer: Anything you recognize more than likely belongs to a woman named J.K. Rowling, though there may be some things you don't…in which case, it may belong to me.
Summary: Following the cryptic orders of his only Mentor, Severus searches for life after living through death, and finds the answer among a group he never expected to find.
"Severus, my boy." The aged wizard greeted, quietly, but quite jovially. Severus acknowledged the man with a nod and seated himself next to the bed, taking in the sallow sight of his mentor and friend.
"Albus." Severus greeted. "I trust you are well."
"As well as an old man can be, my dear boy."
Severus nodded. The man was far beyond 150 years, though he doubted that anyone knew his exact age. It was only nature, and age, that caused such a strong man to look so weak. It really was painful to see. Even more so for Severus, who had relied upon the Headmaster's unfailing strength for the better part of three decades; or more.
"How are your Slytherins, Severus?"
"They are well."
"Good, good; and your classes?"
"They are the same, as usual, Headmaster."
Albus smiled a bit at him, though Severus could still see the weariness beyond the ever present twinkle in the man's eyes.
"Are you happy here, my boy?" The question startled him, who had never expected something so forward from the man.
"I am content." He responded a bit slowly.
"You deserve to by happy." Albus paused as a spat of coughs interrupted him. Severus felt helpless as he watched the spasms wrack the frail body. There was no potion to ease the coming of age. There was no cure for time. It made him feel terribly helpless, and he hated it.
"Ah, I am old, Severus." Albus whispered after a moment, "I want to make sure that my sons are happy."
Severus started and stared at his mentor. He had never been claimed as a son before, though he knew that the Headmaster thought fondly of him.
"Yes, Severus, my son, I want to make sure that you are happy." Albus' eyes still twinkled, which comforted Severus more than he thought possible.
"I am no longer plagued by the decisions of my father, I am content." Severus said.
"I know you are content, but you deserve happiness."
"Happiness comes to those who still know what innocence is."
"No, my dear boy, you deserve it more than anyone," Albus's eyes were sad, "You, who have been through so much, deserve to know what it is like to live again."
Severus looked away from the man, having no response, and not wanting to revert to his old insults and cynicism. Better to be silent, than to draw on the weapons of old.
"Severus," Albus caught his attention, "Live, Severus. Live, my son, the way that you once dreamed you could."
"Albus," Severus began, but again remained quiet. He did not know how to respond to such emotions being shown to him.
"Go, Severus, and learn what it is like to live again."
Severus stared into the bright blue eyes of his long time mentor, struggling for some sort of understanding. He didn't know how to follow such instructions.
Albus smiled fondly at him, understanding. "Follow the trail of the green eyed children. They will be able to show you how to find life."
Severus stared at the man as Albus closed his eyes and breathed deeply, silently. He looked out the window at the twilight hours of the day. He sighed.
"I don't know what to do, Albus." He whispered. "How can someone find life, when all they know is death?" He asked the old man.
The Headmaster didn't hear, and Severus found, for the first time since his years before Hogwarts, that he could, indeed, cry.
"Severus?" a hesitant voice inquired. Severus looked up from his tea into the eyes of one of his colleagues. "Are you alright, Severus?"
"I'm fine, Minerva." He pressed his cup to his lips and found his tea to be cold. He glanced down into the mug, blankly. "I'm fine." He repeated.
"Severus, I don't know what Albus said to you, but you sh…"
"I'm fine." He stated, and met her eyes. He sighed heavily. "At least, I will be."
The woman nodded and sat back in her seat, Albus' seat, behind his desk. Severus looked around at the office, it still looked as if the old man dwelled there, but his presence was gone. It was oddly empty. Like the castle. Like him. Even the company of Minerva could not fill that space. He figured that no one could.
"Are you sure, Severus," Minerva was speaking, "That you want to leave? Hogwarts won't be the same without you haunting the dungeons."
"Yes." No, he thought, Hogwarts will never be the same. He looked back at the castle from the gates; only the spires and towers could be seen over the rise.
"Where will you go?"
Severus tore his gaze from the ancient building. "To find life." He said, meeting her eyes, "Like he asked me to."
She sucked in a breath, letting it out in a shaky sigh. "I see." And he knew that she did.
"Tell them that we all miss them, that we remember them fondly." She said softly and turned back to the castle. Severus watched her go; not bothering to hide his surprise. He had never seen tears in that woman's eyes, especially not for him.
He should have known that it was only the beginning of the emptiness of the castle.
He didn't even notice the odd space that their absence left. He didn't notice it growing as each one disappeared into the world, away from Hogwarts, leaving him behind.
He should have.
Perhaps he wouldn't have ached so much at the death of his mentor, if he had acknowledged that space, and followed them then. Albus knew. He always knew.
"Follow the trail of the green eyed children." Severus whispered to the near empty streets of London. There was only one answer to such a riddle, but the hard part wasn't the start of the trail, it was the end. No one could tell him his destination. No one knew where the trail ended. Many had tried to follow, but few succeeded.
Severus doubted that he could, but he would try; because Albus wanted him to, because he had a message to deliver. He would try because he couldn't stand the emptiness that had seeped into his world; the only world he knew. And because the only person he had cared about wanted him to live again.
"Where did they go?" he asked her softly. The blonde haired woman looked at him with blue eyes strangely reminiscent of Albus' own twinkle.
"Why do you search for them?" she asked just as softly.
Severus sighed, and looked away from her eyes, out the window to London's dreary streets. The early morning mists cast the city in tones of grays and muted blues.
"To find life." He said.
"Ah, life." He looked back to her, his former student; one of many. He had long ago lost count how many souls had sat in his classes over the years. Yet for all the faces and names he had learned and forgot, he easily remembered hers. She was one of them, after all.
"And to deliver a message."
"The," he paused, but forced himself to continue, "the new Headmistress."
"Ah, a good message, then."
Severus looked sideways at the woman, reminded of her strange ability to seem to know so much and to never seem surprised. He wondered, not for the first time, if she was related to Albus.
He hummed softly in agreement, and turned back to the window.
"It seems strange," he began, "That you would remain when they all left."
"Is it so strange?"
Severus glanced at her, but again looked away. Her eyes were far too similar to his mentor's for his present comfort.
"Perhaps, perhaps not."
"I did not need to leave. I still fit here, and the emptiness has not yet reached the needed culmination for the journey." She said softly, not taking her eyes from him.
Severus was dearly reminded of the intellect of Ravenclaws, and Albus' belief that each Hogwarts student had a bit of every house within them. Ravenclaws, defined, did not have such emotional intuition, yet she showed such senses that a great Slytherin would possess.
"They wait for you." Her misty voice said to him. Severus met her blue eyes with confusion, "Over the seas, beyond the winds, in the place for hope."
Severus continued to stare after the young woman as she rose and left the café. She had always been a little distant, strange even. She was one of the few who knew where the trail ended, but hadn't followed it. Like Albus.
"Thank you, Miss Lovegood." He said quietly. He watched the black birds peck at the cobbled square as he finished his tea.
Of course, his father hadn't given him the option of dreams. The Dark Lord hadn't been fond of them either. Soon enough, Severus had stopped dreaming altogether. Albus had once said that he would dream for him, until he was able to dream on his own again.
It was that day that Severus first discovered how much he cared for the man. Severus idly wondered who would carry his dreams now that Albus was gone.
Severus let such thoughts float from his mind as he took in the bustling city around him. He scowled, reminiscent of his old habits. New York had yet to grow on him.
"Beyond the winds…" he murmured. It was easy enough to figure that Luna's riddle led him across the ocean, thus his quick trip to New England, but he had yet to work out the rest of it.
It was by pure luck that he passed by a tourism office and spotted the postcard.
"The Windy City," he read, his mind mulling over the words and information the little card presented to him. He thought it was too easy; the end of the journey seemed too close. No one had ever found the end unless they were welcome there. But then he remembered Luna's words, that they would be waiting for him; and Albus saying that he wanted to make sure that his sons, plural, were happy.
"Of course." He said softly as he continued on his way, "Of course they knew."
After time, the only thing he truly enjoyed was his potions. It hadn't been until many years later that Severus found a home in bowels of Hogwarts, but he would have found a home there, so long as Albus was near.
The castle had no longer felt like home, it was too empty.
Severus finally admitted to himself that he left Hogwarts not because Albus asked him to, but because Albus was no longer there to make him feel at home. It was a bit disconcerting to realize that he had cared for Albus so much that he remained at a place he wasn't fond of, simply because of that one man.
Now he was taking a train with a growing hope that this second arrival wouldn't be tainted by the influence of a Dark Lord. It caused the name of the place to become very apt to his situation. He suspected that it was why the town was chosen by them.
It hadn't taken him long to find the small town on a map. Luna had already told him where to look, and what its name was.
"Attention please," the train announced, "We are currently arriving in New Hope, if you plan to disembark, please wait until the train has come to a stop and exit…"
Severus tuned the voice out and watched the small town out his window. It was about the size of Hogsemeade Village, but that was about where the comparison ended. While Hogsmeade had been strictly magical, New Hope housed both Wizards and Muggles, and all in between. It was also distinctly American.
Severus liked it.
He walked the sidewalk, avoiding the automobiles that traveled the road beneath the network of brooms above. He bypassed a sports shop that sold supplies both magical and muggle, and what looked to be a candy store in the hands of the Weasley twins quickly.
Severus was debating with himself about entering the town's apothecary when he turned and noticed a street sign. He noted that he was currently standing upon Hope St., which housed the train station, but a side street that lead up into the hills and countryside was named, Vita Road. He studied the sign a bit, twirling the hints that both Albus and Luna and dropped to him around in his mind.
"Vita," he mumbled to himself, "Vita, vitae; latin…life, way of life, living." He stared down the narrow two-lane road, but couldn't see past the bend ahead.
There really wasn't any other direction.
"Follow the trail of the green eyed children." He repeated Albus' hint to himself.
Severus studied the two, and the dark bay horse they rode. They were obviously siblings, though he wasn't sure if they were twins, as they were of opposite genders, though they looked very much alike. The boy's hair was redder than the girl's, though not at all lighter in tone, while the girl was beginning to become taller than her counterpart, as girls were wont to do.
The horse was male, and a beautiful creature, obviously well bred. His coat and hair were dark, with hints of red, or a lighter brown and it sported a blaze of white down its face. The children were comfortable upon its back, obviously knowing how to ride, even without the saddle they apparently had no need for.
Severus met each of their eyes, noting their curiosity; noting the unique shade of green that each of them bore. It was the same green that marked their father's eyes, and their grandmother's; as it had marked their two brothers, who had died years ago. The same green eyes that had marked all of Harry Potter's children.
"How do you come to be here?" the boy asked.
Severus started and studied the boy for a moment. It was a question that could as easily be directed at a townsperson as him. He knew what they were looking for; a password, of sorts; one that was already given to him, though he hadn't known it at the time.
"Over the seas, beyond the winds, and to the place for hope." He said softly.
The girl smiled softly, and the horse shifted its weight.
"The Ranch is this way," the boy said, "You are welcome."
Severus nodded, and followed the horse and its two young riders down the road.
The house was a large three story building that dominated the clearing. It would easily house many people comfortably. There were two barns, one much larger than the other, situated near a series of fencing that no doubt led to pastures and fields beyond his vision. The two children had led the horse into the smaller of the two, chatting between themselves.
It was a comforting location, and beautiful.
"Welcome to the New Hope Ranch," a woman's voice made him turn from the view of the sprawling landscape. He started at the familiar sight of her motherly features and warm smile. "It took you longer than we thought it would, Severus."
"Molly," Severus stared at the elder woman, noticing the evidence of age in her hair and around her eyes, yet she was smiling at him in welcome.
"Hello, dear." She said, pulling him into a firm embrace, "It is good of you to finally get here."
Severus stepped back form the woman, still studying her, and her words. "Longer than you thought?"
"Of course! Now come on, dinner is just about ready, and you look like you could use some."
Severus let the woman steer him into the house, still trying to come to terms that she, they, had expected his arrival.
"Sit, dear." Molly sat him down on one of the long benches, as he was still distracted by the large dining room to seat himself. It could easily seat over thirty individuals.
As they all crowded into the hall, he counted twenty-six. There were clearly more children than adults, easily by half, in ages ranging from the infant now on Molly's hip to the two gangly teens nearly to adulthood. They all gave him curious looks, but didn't speak to him as they took their places around the table, digging hungrily into the offered meal. The two green eyed ones who led him down the road were among them, their ages comfortably in the middle of the rest.
The adults were what surprised him, even though he already knew who they would be.
They all gave him nods, or small smiles, each greeting him silently in their own way as they too, sat around the table. It was, perhaps, what astonished him more so than that they all knew he was coming; they all welcomed his presence.
He took in the changes they had all gone through, mainly their ages and the lightening of the lines of stress they all used to bear.
Severus turned and took in the sight of his nephew. Draco had aged, as they all had, and sat comfortably at the table across from him. His wife was beside him, a girl from his school days, Cho, who looked to be expecting a child come a few months.
"Draco." Severus greeted the blonde, "It is good to see you are well."
"You as well, Uncle."
Draco smiled and pointed out one of the dark haired children down the table. "My son, Alexius, you've met him some years ago." Severus was astonished at the boy's growth. He remembered the small infant that was presented to him during the war, but the boy had now grown into a youth. "He'd be about the age ready for Hogwarts, now." Draco said.
Severus nodded, still watching the young, silver eyed boy, whom he was named godfather of.
"He'd like to meet you, Uncle."
Severus met Draco's eyes, "I'd like that."
He was pleasantly surprised to follow the entire household out onto the grounds. The children quickly began some muggle ball game in the yard while the adults watched and talked.
"Hello, Professor." Severus nodded his greeting to the young woman, whom he quickly recognized.
"I am no longer a Professor, Miss. Granger."
She smiled. "And I am neither a Miss., nor a Granger."
Severus looked at her for a moment, noting the bound hair and round hips that showed her motherhood. "Of course, Mrs. Weasley."
She smiled softly again and sat next to him. "Just Hermione, please." She said, "The only Mrs. Weasley around here is Molly."
He nodded. "So which one of the red headed bunch did you choose?" he asked.
She smiled that easy smile of hers again. "Isn't it obvious?" She pointed to one of the tall red headed men at the other end of the porch. There were four of the family's boys present, not counting the children. "Charlie and I married just after the war, here in New Hope."
She, like Draco, pointed out her children, of which she had two.
"It just figures," she was saying, "that both our boys would get my curls and his red hair."
Severus easily found the flaming curls of her children amongst the rest. They were younger than Draco's son, but Draco had married while still in England.
"What are their names?" he asked.
"Tyler and Warner."
Severus nodded, watching the rather simple game of kick ball.
"We are glad to have you here, Severus." Hermione said. He was again graced with her smile as she rose and joined her husband, who nodded to him with a smile of his own.
Severus found himself returning the acknowledgement with ease.
The youngest children quickly tired of the game and retired to their parents while the older ones began a new, more intense game of ball.
Severus found himself holding a brown haired little girl who had, for some reason, taken a liking to him. She was a cute little thing, really. Her soft brown curls framed a face that held big hazel eyes. She had curled up on his lap and promptly attached herself to his jacket.
He allowed it, Merlin knew why.
"Ah, there she is."
Severus twisted his head around to see the speaker. "Indeed."
"She never was shy; I don't know where she gets it."
Severus met the eyes of the man before him. "Her grandmother might be a good start." He said, "Her mother was also quite vocal at times."
Neville's eyes widened, but then he looked down fondly at his daughter. "I suppose so."
Severus watched the man, noticing the strength of his love for his family; not for the first time. The young man had demonstrated it before; saving the precious bundle that was now cuddled up to Severus from a certain death.
"I'll take her to bed." Neville said. Severus released the sleeping girl to her father.
"She is beautiful." He said softly. Neville smiled as he walked into the house.
Severus watched the interplay between the members of the house. He quickly learned that the children weren't all claimed; many were orphans, and that the New Hope Ranch was a type of orphanage. The Ranch followed the style of the town it took its name from, accepting children no matter if they were wizards, muggle or something else entirely. Two of them were squibs, and one was a young werewolf.
Severus also quickly reacquainted himself with the adults, all of whom, except for Molly, had at one point sat in his classroom. Draco and his wife, Cho, were more than happy to catch him up on the familial situations amongst the residents of the Ranch.
"You knew that Bill and Fleure married, of course," Cho was saying, "They have four now, all girls. They're the only ones born with the Weasley name and without the red hair."
Severus quickly acknowledged that the four girls were very pretty, one of whom was nearing adulthood. They certainly had gained their mother's genes.
"Neville married Susan Bones, I'm not sure if you knew that, they have three." She smiled at him, "You've already met Bridgette."
"Yes," Severus said, "She was quite…insistent."
"She's like that," Draco inserted, "None of us can quite figure out where she gets it from."
"It runs in her family." Severus said quietly.
Cho smiled, and continued her explanations. "Charlie and Hermione were a bit of a surprise at first, though they fit well together. Their two boys are a handful, though. They take after their uncles far too much for most of our comforts."
Severus grimaced, remembering the antics of the Weasley twins. Apparently they were passing on the trade to their nephews. Severus eyed the two in question; Fred and George were the other two Weasley boys who still survived along with two of their elder brothers, and were, apparently, doing well, though neither had children of their own.
"Blaise is here as well," Cho said, and pointed to brown haired man at the other end of the porch. "He's not married, but is dating a pretty little thing from the town."
Severus nodded, and took in the sight of his other Slytherin. He had not known for sure that Blaise had followed the trail, but he had suspected it.
"He's got a ring for her." Draco said quietly. Cho smiled brightly at her husband and sent a small look towards the man in question. "But you didn't hear that from me."
Cho nodded and, still with a small smile, pointed to the two green eyed children Severus had followed on the road. "The boy is Sirius, and the girl is Lily."
Severus stared at the two, his suspicions confirmed. "Harry's children." He whisperd. "The twins."
"Yes," Cho said quietly.
Severus nodded, remembering the evening that Harry had lost so much, all in the name of a war he never wanted to fight. Severus knew Harry's pain, in his own way.
"Where is he?" Severus finally asked the question he had wanted to all evening.
"Harry?" Cho sighed exasperatedly and looked towards the barn. "Sleeping, I'd imagine."
"Sleeping?" Severus looked form Cho to the barn and then turned to Draco.
He smirked, "He let the kids run him out today."
Severus' brow furrowed as he thought that out. Then he remembered Harry's animagus ability. Severus' eyes widened when he realized that the horse he followed on the road had been Harry.
"How could I forget." He mumbled, "He used that against me so many times."
Draco and Cho's laughter eased away his slight embarrassment at his lapse in memory. He really should have remembered that Harry had mastered multiple animagaus forms; Merlin knew he witnessed it enough times. Apparently, Harry hadn't ceased learning.
He remembered clearly the night that Harry had lost over half his family, in one fell swoop. It had been the Dark Lord's plan, to break him, but it had only angered Harry, and the Dark Lord was dead the following night, along with half of his followers.
Then Harry grieved; grieved for the loss of his self proclaimed uncle, his wife and two of his children. The eldest had barely been three, and the second wasn't yet one.
"Sable," Severus whispered to the dusk, "Arthur."
"They knew you." A voice spoke from behind him. Severus recognized it, even older as it was. He turned, taking in the man before him.
"Good evening, Severus."
Harry smiled softly, "They knew you." He continued, "Sable loved your hands, and hearing your voice, no matter what you read. Even Arthur, knew you, Severus."
Severus sucked in a shaky breath. Harry seated himself next to him on the steps of the porch.
"Me and Ginny," Harry whispered, "We had never been more sure that we had chosen the right man to be their godfather."
Severus was silent, remembering. He had been shocked to the core the day Harry and a very pregnant Ginny approached him. He agreed to become the godfather of their first child; Merlin knew where he got the courage to agree.
He had never regretted it.
He had loved Sable, and spoiled him rotten. After the twins were born, Harry had asked him to, again, serve the position of godfather for their fourth child. Severus loved him as well; Arthur had been every bit as curious as his namesake.
Severus had been as devastated as Harry at their loss. They had shared their grief, as brothers, though they hadn't realized it then, that they were so close.
It was only a month later that Harry took his two remaining children and left. Within a year Hermione, Charlie, Draco and Cho had followed. In the years following, the rest joined them, one by one following a trail that no one else could.
"Sirius and Lily recognized you." Harry said quietly.
Severus looked over at the young man, relieved in a way, that the two knew him. "I wasn't sure."
Harry smiled, "You're hard to forget, you know."
Severus snorted and looked back out to the yard, where the children were finishing their game.
"I knew you would follow us." Harry said beside him.
Severus wasn't surprised. "I know, though, it took me a while to realize it."
Harry smiled at him. "Did you have a pleasant journey?"
Severus blinked at the green eyes facing his own, but found his voice somewhere below his surprise. "Yes, it was well enough."
Harry smiled. "Good, I'm glad."
Severus's lips curled slightly, and he realized that he was, in fact, smiling.
"Minerva sends her regards." Severus said.
Harry smiled, "She took Albus' position at Hogwarts?"
Severus nodded, and they were silent for a while.
"I felt his passing." Harry stated softly.
Severus looked over at the young man, knowing immediately whom he was speaking of.
"We held a memorial here for him, though some of the younger children didn't fully understand."
Severus nodded. It was expected that these children, who had never met Albus, wouldn't fully understand such a service.
"I was with him." He revealed.
Severus started and stared at the man. Harry smiled softly. "I just know." He said, "And I'm glad that he wasn't alone."
Severus turned back to his glass, and watched the sun nearing the horizon out the window.
"He was the," he paused, looking for the words to express his loss to this young man.
"I know." Harry's voice was soft, soothing in a way. Severus glanced over at him, and saw that, indeed, Harry knew. He saw the understanding in the green eyes.
"Of course." Severus sipped his drink and turned away. Sons, Albus had said. "Of course." He whispered.
They were silent as they watched the last light of the day fade.
That night, Severus dreamed.