Author's Note:

First, thanks to Lee who has supported me through this whole thing by making suggestions to make this story better. *hugs* This epilogue is dedicated to her, for all her kindness, and because she is the one responsible for it being 14 pages in MS word rather than 6.

Thank you so much, and I am sorry so many trees had to die to supply the Kleenex addiction. I really did want to end it there originally, but like I said there were way too many questions. After all, just how was Severus going to react? And what happened with the rest of the Death Eaters?

So here is the epilogue, right now. I don't want to punish you by making you wait because I really appreciate all your support. I am unhappy that I couldn't leave it like that. If I was a film maker I would have to (because this isn't an American film you know - Brad Pitt says something like that in "The Devil's Own"), but this is fan fic, so I had better sew things up for you. I hope you all like daffodils, they are my gift to you *smiles* Over here in Australia, daffodils are considered a symbol of hope because they emerge from frozen ground. I hope you will see the link - in the words of a friend of mine, blind Freddy would probably see it.

To Snapefan51 - thank you again for your supportive comments and ongoing reviews. I really appreciate everything you say. I couldn't kill Severus though, I have already done that once, not that it precludes it happening again. Maybe my next story.. Haven't decided yet. Here is the update, I hope it is soon enough.

To QsDaughter - they don't all end sadly. most do, but not all. Please read and enjoy this. Personally, I believe that everyone should be able to have a happy life, justice for all etc, but I am old enough and realistic enough to know that this won't happen in this lifetime. I appreciate the fact that you agree that it is best for the story to end there though; I was interested to see how many would accept the tragic ending, even with questions about Severus' reaction left unanswered. Hope you enjoy the epilogue. Thank you for your ongoing support.

To oneofmany - there is no way apart from reviews to know how many people read your fiction. That is kind of the reason I fished for reviews with the last chapter. Even just knowing how many people reached the end is vital to me, and reviews ARE the only way. Thank you for dropping me the line. I have to admit, that I lurk myself, but I always try to leave at least one review to say I am reading.

To ahapyjtm - thank you for the yellow roses. It would have been irresponsible of me not to warn you, although I feared that I would be giving too much away, I didn't want to "traumatise" anyone without warning them. Thank you for your ongoing support.

To cloudshape - you are already thinking along my lines in relation to Snape's reaction, but don't despair. I forgive you for lurking; after all, I think you have reviewed before. I would check to confirm this but I really want to post this nice and early. Thank you for reviewing now. Glad you like the story, and hope this posting is soon enough.

To zippy zany - yes, I am sorry I killed her, but apart from the sadness she felt at leaving Severus alone, it really was a release from her torment and anyway, there was a reason, and all will be explained when you read this. I hope you won't be disappointed with what happens next. The idea of Salazar's retribution was a result of a friend's comment that it was too simple for Jane to kill him - she suggested I find another way. I had to wrack my brains to figure something out, and in the end it was quite easy and I thought it worked well too. It added a little magic to the spice.

Anyway, that is enough from me at the moment. Here is the epilogue. Please enjoy!

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Epilogue

"Those who have crossed With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom

Remember us -- if at all -- not as lost

Violent souls, but only

As the hollow men

The stuffed men."

T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men, 1925

**************************************************************

Dumbledore arrived with Harry Potter and an army of Aurors to deal with the remaining Death Eaters, almost immediately after the last breath passed from Jane's lips.

Surveying the scene, he was surprised to find his Potions Master alive. That was a pleasant, but unanticipated discovery, until he realised the reason. The young man was kneeling, motionless on the floor, cradling his grand daughter in his arms. Dumbledore corrected himself sadly - it was his grand daughter's body. Her spirit was already gone. The cold hand of pain gripped his heart as he looked at them - the boy was paler than he had ever seen him and covered with the girl's blood. His eyes were filled with unshed sadness. Dumbledore moved towards the pair, but as he approached, the young man apparated away with the lifeless child in his arms, not acknowledging his presence.

**********

News spread quickly of Voldemort's defeat and the wiazarding world celebrated its freedom from the shackles of his evil tyranny. Harry Potter was feted as the hero. A role he had neither earned nor desired, and he hated it given the actual cost of the victory.

Harry had been there, the day of Voldemort's defeat. He had seen Snape, covered in Jane's blood and immobilised by grief. He has witnessed the pain that flashed briefly on Dumbldore's face as he had realised what had transpired, and finally, he had watched, silently as his most despised professor apparated away with Jane's lifeless body, without acknowledging their arrival in the slightest.

Taking personal vengence on Wormtail for betraying his parents hadn't helped in the end either, no matter how much he had been looking forward to the opportunity. It hadn't changed a thing. They were still gone, as was Sirius, and so many others. The price of one man's lust for power had been great. The Dark Lord, He Who Must Not Be Named, Voldemort, Tom Riddle, a bastard child, had ruined so many lives, that the victory hardly seemed like a victory at all.

Dumbledore counselled him to accept the accolades. Shattered as he was by the events of that day, still unable to comprehend the fact that his Muggle grand daughter had been the one to make the supreme sacrifice in the final battle, he knew only too well that the wizarding community would never be willing to accept the truth of what had happened that day - he could hardly accept it himself.

As much as he suffered though, he knew there was another who suffered more. His Potions Master had barely emerged from his chambers since he had returned.

The taciturn man wouldn't even speak of what had happened. Nor had he been particularly forthcoming with information about what he had done with Jane's body. He assured the Headmaster that he would eventually know of the grave's location, but now wasn't the time. It was almost as though the girl had never existed, and Dumbledore would almost have believed that if it wasn't for the affect her loss had had on the dark haired wizard. The young man, always sickly looking, now looked like the living dead. Dumbledore watched Snape's decline into depression, failing again and again, to draw him out of the shell of despair he was building around himself.

He watched as Snape withdrew further into himself and was reminded of the lines of a Muggle poem Ariel had once told him. The last lines described perfectly, his Potions Master's breakdown. "This is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper", only the young man was not even whimpering in his pain. In fact, reflecting on the four weeks that had passed since that day, Dumbledore realised that Snape had spoken more than single words only once.

Malfoy, affected as he was by the events of that fateful day, had made the mistake of making a comment about the 'dirty Muggle whore' that was responsible for his Father's death. It had been unfortunate that it had been one of the few occasions that he had managed to coax the forlorn man from his self imposed solitude to join the staff in the Great Hall for a meal. Dumbledore suspected that it may well have been the last time he had eaten properly too, given Snape's considerable physical deterioration.

Hearing the blonde Slytherin's words, Snape had frozen, his pale face growing paler, his lips pulled tightly together into a thin line, his eyes narrowed to slits. When Draco had continued by saying it was a good thing that she was dead, or he would have had to take care of that himself, Dumbledore watched as something within his Potions Master finally snapped, and he knew the young man would never be the same again.

Snape had calmly lowered his knife and fork and swallowed the small mouthful of food he had managed, before rising and moving to the blonde haired boy. Everyone in the hall froze, expecting the man to hit the boy, but they were all astounded when he merely asked, politely, for Draco to join him outside.

Rising, already regretting what he had said, and expecting some serious form of retribution, knowing exactly what the Potions Master was capable of, Draco followed the tall man quietly from the hall. Dumbledore followed, unnoticed by the pair, concerned for the boy's welfare. He needn't have worried though.

Leaving the hall, Snape had stood there, his whole being overwhelmed with a strange combination of sadness and anger. Dumbledore was astounded by the despondent man's words - in a voice, reminiscent of that which had been lost, the smooth, calculating voice that was such a potent weapon, he looked at Draco, head hung in fear, and said quietly: "Your father made a foolish mistake in his youth, as did I Draco, and it cost him his life. I am sorry for my part in what happened, but more than that, I hope you never make the same mistakes we did."

Dumbledore and Draco both watched incredulously as the man walked off without saying another word. Later that night, Dumbledore, concerned for the younger man's state of mind, watched silently from the floo, as he stalked around his chambers, smashing his belongings in pent up anger. He hadn't emerged from his chambers since that night, and it worried everyone.

As concerned as he was for Snape, Dumbledore knew others were hurting too at her loss. Harry, he knew, having arrived with him, was particularly traumatised by the sight of the girl and the blood covered man and he supported him as best he could. He recognised the signs of recovery in the child, and it buoyed his own spirit as he saw Harry's Gryffindor courage shine through. It was the part of his spirit that had seen him sorted into Gryffindor rather than Slytherin that had helped him to overcome the trauma again and again, and Dumbledore knew the boy's nightmares were slowly being replaced by hope for the future.

Hermione Granger, too, had reacted badly to the painful news, having been the student closest to his grand daughter. He was glad that she hadn't been with them to see the final scene at Voldemort's lair, doubting she would have recovered from that sight, but again, her Gryffindor spirit helped her to move forward through the immobilisation of grief.

The support of her friends, Ron's encouragement, and Harry's understanding, had also helped her move forward, and finally recognise that she had been vital to Jane's ultimate happiness. As the days and weeks passed, Hermione came to see that rather than being a victim, Jane had, for the first time in her life, been able to choose her path rather than just react to the situation she was in. It may have ended badly, but for the first time, Jane had the power and opportunity to choose her own direction.

Hermione's friendship and support had been Jane's empowerment, and the she learned to take pride in that knowledge. She realised, too, that Jane wouldn't have wanted her to wallow in unending grief; Jane had moved though the pain of her own traumatic life, and Hermione took her lead from the girl and moved through her pain too, realising that it was insignificant in comparison to what her friend had survived.

Snape had no such support mechanism; nothing that was said or done could make him see that Jane's loss, while tragic, wasn't the end of the world. To him it was, and the young man fell deeper and deeper into a pit of grief and despair from which no one seemed to be able to rescue him, no matter how hard they tried. He just couldn't be reached, and most gave up trying, realising that he probably didn't wish to be. Only one held out hope for the Potions Master's lost soul - she would never give up, her friend wouldn't have wanted that.

**********

"I am worried about Professor Snape, Sir." Hermione looked at him with gentle brown eyes filled with concern.

"I am afraid we all are Miss Granger, but none of us have been able to reach him." Dumbledore answered sadly.

Hermione shifted nervously. "Sir, may I try?" She asked quietly.

Dumbledore looked at the girl. His eyes shinning at her professed desire to help the much maligned man, grateful that she was able to overcome her own grief and see the more profound loss of another. He smiled sadly. "Of course Hermione. I don't expect you will have much success, but if you wish to approach him you may do so, by all means."

"Thank you Sir." Dumbledore nodded. Turning to leave, Hermione thought better of it. Moving back to the old wizard, suddenly seeming older than he ever had before, even in the midst of battle, she touched his hand. "She wouldn't have hated you if she had known the truth, Sir. She had enough love for both of you, she just needed to be given the chance."

Not waiting for a response, Hermione turned and moved quickly from the Headmaster's office, wiping the tears from her eyes as she left. She couldn't help Snape at all if she couldn't control her own grief.

**********

There was a knock on the door, a gentle tap. It was a girl's knock - trying to gain attention but not intrude. For a moment his heart leapt - Jane! Then he realised it was impossible.

He didn't wish to be bothered, but he knew the knock wouldn't leave until the owner of the hand had been admitted and satisfied. Not bothering to rise from the chair he was slumped in, he waved his hand and the door opened to admit his visitor.

**********

Hermione entered quietly and surveyed the scene. Snape sat, hunched with despair, in a chair by the fire. The fire was unlit and he stared into the darkness of the fireplace, seeing nothing but his own emptiness and despair reflected back at him.

It was freezing in his chambers and Hermione shivered and pulled her cloak around herself. No wonder the man appeared so ill. It was such a profound change from when Jane had been present, the warmth and light of the room gone now, that the scene almost shook her resolve. Hesitating briefly, but knowing she had to try something, Hermione moved closer to the morose figure.

Looking at him, Hermione noticed his robes were unkempt, his appearance haggard. It was clear that he was not looking after himself. He couldn't have been eating much either, his normally slender frame was gaunt, and his skin pale. He looked rather more like a skeleton with skin than a human being. Hermione's insides knotted and she turned away, staring too into the darkness of the unlit fireplace, not wanting to acknowledge the decline of the once graceful man.

"Professor." She started quietly.

"Yes Miss Granger." His voice was dead, no longer the smooth, sharp weapon that stung with its pointed barbs.

"I-."

Turning to look at her, Snape spoke quietly. "Please get on with it Miss Granger, we both know why you are here, so let's not dilly dally with pleasantries. Say what you wish and then leave me to peace."

Hermione turned to look into the man's tortured face, and seeing the true depths of his despair in his bottomless black eyes, she knew she would fail. The Potions Master was already lost, and it was only a matter of time and degree before the remaining shell was gone too. The Gryffindor in her wouldn't let go though, she had to try, she had to try for Jane, otherwise her sacrifice would be in vain.

"Professor, Jane-." She noticed he stiffened at the girl's name, "Jane would never have wanted this. She wanted you to be happy."

"I can assure you the desire was mutual. I wished only the same for her." He acknowledged, in the voice of a hollow man.

"So you must see then that you can't stay like this." She tried. "It would make her unhappy."

"She is dead Miss Granger, and it should have been me. I would gladly trade places with her if that was possible, but it isn't, so the simple fact is she can be neither happy nor unhappy now. I on the other hand may be either. So I choose to be unhappy."

He paused briefly and when he continued, his voice was even quieter. "Given that I remain here tormented by my crimes and destined to live on further punished by her loss, I can't imagine happiness would be appropriate under the circumstances."

"So you are just going to let yourself die!" Snape flinched at the accusatory tone of the girl's voice - she sounded just like the other one. "Surely then, her death would have been in vain." Hermione appealed to the man's logic.

"Her sacrifice, while noble, was foolish. I never asked her to give her life for me. I don't understand what the foolish girl was thinking, coming to my 'rescue' like that. It would have been much better if she had just accepted my farewell note and let me die." He paused. "Considering my behaviour I would have to say that if I am fortunate, death will be my reward." He answered flatly.

"Professor Snape, please."

Hermione watched as her professor slumped back hi his chair. "Thank you for your concern Miss Granger, but I don't feel compelled to play the hero, as Potter does. I have lost the only person who has ever truly cared, and I don't wish to do the 'noble' thing and live on without her."

"Professor, you can't say that, its nonsense." Hermione reached out and took the Potions Master's pale hand. It was cold, so cold she couldn't imagine blood still flowed through his veins. "We care for you."

Snape didn't pull his hand away, in fact he didn't even acknowledge Hermione's touch, and she wondered if he could even feel it. His voice was quiet but filled with pain as he spoke again. "Thank you, but I would prefer it if you didn't. Much less painful you see." His voice almost broke at that, and he paused to recover himself. "Your dress," he continued suddenly, as if his moment of weakness had never happened, "The one from my birthday - it hangs in her room." He faced his concerned student. "I was going to return it to you, but I couldn't bring myself to enter. Perhaps you would like to take it when you leave." His dark eyes had a begging look that she couldn't believe was possible from Snape.

Hermione was desperate to help the lost soul some how, but his dismissal was all to plain, and she realised her efforts would be futile. She returned his hand to the arm of the chair, knowing that if she just released it, it would fall and strike the hard wood the chair was hewn of. She knew too that he would barely feel it in his current state, regardless of the damage the blow did. Hermione doubted the Cruciatus curse would cause more pain than the lost man was currently feeling. Nothing would or could reach him as he was.

Rising slowly, she moved quietly to Jane's room and found the dress hanging neatly. There was a note of apology from Jane, for her ghastly behaviour in the past weeks - it had obviously been written on the morning of her death. Reading it shook Hermione, and almost brought her to tears, but she remained strong.

Taking the dress, she withdrew from Jane's room, and was surprised to find Snape, standing now, just outside the door, watching her.

"Thank you Miss Granger. Perhaps you could wear it to the celebrations this evening. It would be a shame if it was never worn again. It is very beautiful."

"Jane looked breathtaking in it." She agreed, knowing she would never be able to wear it.

"Yes."

Hermione saw tears in the dark pools of his eyes, and he turned away. "Please leave," he requested.

Hermione reluctantly did as he asked, not wishing to damage the tormented man's pride further by forcing him to shed tears in front of a student.

As she closed the door behind her, Hermione had a terrible feeling that those were the last words he would ever speak. Moving quickly to escape the darkness and despair of the dungeons, feelings that threatened to crush her, Hermione rushed towards the light and tried to put the painful thoughts out of her mind. Celebrating was the last thing she felt like doing.

**********

Snape moved to his desk, weary of the fight, and picked up the small round, black bottle that was sitting there, waiting patiently for just this moment. He had devised this particular potion years before, when he had first turned from the Dark, thinking he had no option of escape at the time except death. Dumbledore had offered another choice and he had taken it willingly, unaware of what his decision to spy would ultimately cost.

Now he had nothing, was nothing, and tonight he would end it as he should have a lifetime ago.

Moving to his bed, unmade as it was, after he had banned the house elves from his quarters - unable to tolerate the memories of the happy times that their presence evoked, he sat heavily and removed the small bottles glass stopper. The sweet smell of belladonna struck him immediately and he smiled. He had waited for this for so long.

Raising the bottle to his lips, hand shaking slightly, his spirit soared as the first sickly sweet drop touched his tongue. Tonight he would be free, no longer haunted by the torment of his dreams.

A warm sensation overwhelmed him, the first he had experienced since the girl had left him. He moved onto the bed, laid back and waited. He vaguely enjoyed the feeling of peace as the potion relieved him of his dreadful memories. It was a brilliant potion - too bad no one would congratulate him on it.

Snape was gently eased to sleep and the slumber grew deeper until the potion finally robbed him of the last of his sentience. Finally, quietly, unnoticed, his breathing eased to nothingness.

**********

Dumbledore sat heavily as the two Gryffindor students left his office. He didn't feel like celebrating either, but the rest of the wizarding world, oblivious to the sacrifice of another 'worthless' Muggle, did - so celebrate they would.

Surveying the room, wondering if it was worth the loss, the elderly wizard was surprised when a golden glow appeared on the floor before his desk. As he watched, it grew, and then solidified into the form of a daffodil. More followed until the floor of his office was carpeted with the tall yellow blooms.

Moving to the window, he saw nothing, and he considered what may have caused the vision. He contemplated the shimmering colours of sunset as they faded into the obscurity of darkness and the first stars appeared, pleased his window was no longer burdened by the presence of the Raven. He felt old for the first time in his life.

"Hello Grandfather."

Dumbledore stiffened, almost afraid to turn around.

"That's right. I know the truth."

He swung around, the golden carpet was gone. Now Jane stood before him.

"I'm real. Just in case you're wondering," she added quietly, smiling. She was dressed as she had been on the night of Severus' birthday.

"I don't understand."

"Nor did I at first. But it seems that my sacrifice earned me the Divine Grace of Hecate, so I have been returned." Allowing no time for that to sink in, she continued quietly. "Not only that, but by using the knife on Voldemort, I broke the charm my Grandmother placed on it. Not only have I returned, but I am no longer a Muggle. I now hold the power of my Mother and Grandmother before."

Dumbledore looked at the girl, unable to speak.

"You should probably call me Galatea now. I think that is more fitting now I have my powers. I guess everyone knew except me."

Dumbledore shook his head. "No, no one knew." He moved to the girl. Stopping just within arm's reach, he touched her. She was, indeed, corpuscular. He had heard of the Divine Grace of Hecate. Rumours abounded from the old times, but he had never witnessed it before. No one in living memory had seen it demonstrated. Now his Grand Daughter, HIS GRAND DAUGHTER, stood before him - proof of its existence. He shuddered at the implication.

"Galatea-." He tried the name. "Im-."

The girl raised her hand. "Don't. I have already told you I know everything. It's alright. I am no longer angry. I would have been here sooner, but letting go of the anger was harder than I thought, and I had to before I could assume my powers and return."

"I don't understand."

"Severus took my body to the Forbidden forest, to the place we first came to when I arrived here. It was a junction of three paths. I don't know what he was thinking, maybe he wasn't, perhaps he was too blinded by grief, but he took me to that place and buried me there. The Goddess, as you know, is drawn to such places. After he left me, She came and redeemed me, and offered me the chance to return if only I could forgive." Jane smiled and reached out, touching the old man's lined face. "And here I am."

"Yes." Dumbledore's eyes shone with tears. He could barely believe it, and he knew others would find it just as difficult. His thoughts turned to the forlorn man, wasting away in his dungeon chambers. "I think there are others who will be equally pleased to see you."

Galatea smiled gently at the thought of the man who had brought her to the magical world and given her the opportunity to be free of her torment. "Yes, I expect there is. Where is Severus?"

Dumbledore sighed. "He hasn't taken your loss well, I'm afraid."

"Oh."

"I tried, WE tried." His words trailed off.

Galatea nodded, and raised her hand to silence him again. She looked worried, and Dumbledore was about to ask her what the problem was when she spoke, her voice filled with a sense of urgency. "I don't feel him. His Spirit isn't here."

Dumbledore looked at her confused. "What?"

"I can feel people, not all, just some, him, maybe just him, and you, and, well, I don't quite understand everything yet, but I can't feel him. His Spirit isn't here, HE isn't here." Galatea's words tumbled quickly from her, concern gripping her strongly.

Dumbledore looked worried now. "Surely he hasn't-."

Galatea was already running from the office.

**********

Galatea stopped at the door to Snape's chambers, and waited for the Headmaster. She knew what she would find and needed the time to prepare herself. When the old wizard arrived, suddenly looking drawn and shattered, she put her hand on the door and pushed it open. She shivered as she entered. The room was freezing.

Looking around, she noticed his things had fallen into a state of disrepair similar to the condition she had rendered them to on their last day together. The room was a mess, she barely recognised it - it spoke of the despair of the man who dwelled within. Galatea waved her hand and things returned to the way they had been.

Dumbledore wondered at the display of wand free magic. The room was filled with warmth and a golden glow. Daffodils appeared, and he understood the vision.

Galatea was something beautiful that had risen from the coldness of the earth. Like Fawkes, she had a trademark of redeemed life. For his Phoenix it was the ashes, for Galatea it was daffodils. Daffodils, he reflected, were much easier to clean up, and much more cheerful. He smiled, almost cheered by the golden flowers, and followed the child quickly into the Potion Masters bed chamber.

Paying little heed, he almost collided with Galatea in his haste. She was motionless in the middle of the room, staring fixedly at the bed. Dumbledore's heart broke at the look of sadness on the girl's face, and for the reason the sadness had appeared there. Severus Snape was resting peacefully on his bed, clothes dishevelled. No movement disturbed the still form - not even the movement of respiration. Clearly the pain had been too much.

"Is he-?" Dumbledore asked, barely able to imagine that the man had taken such a grave step.

"Yes." Her answer was hushed.

"Galatea-."

"NO!" Galatea moved quickly to the bed and touched the Potions Master's face. "Severus, what have you done? I died so that you could live, why have you chosen to spurn my gift?"

The man did not answer.

"I'm sorry Child, we should have watched him more carefully." Dumbledore fought his own pain at the Potions Master's act of desolation.

Galatea shook her head. "No. It is my fault. I took too long to overcome my fury, and he couldn't over his despair." She looked at the small black bottle grasped, desperately in his lifeless fingers.

A daffodil appeared, replacing the bottle, and Galatea jumped back startled.

"What's wrong?"

"That isn't mine - it's Hers."

"Hers?"

"Hers."

Dumbledore was waiting for further clarification when he heard three words, or thought he did. The child didn't speak.

"This once only." The voice was female, calm, soft and gentle like a Spring breeze.

Galatea bent her head. "By Your Divine Grace."

She moved back to the lifeless Potions Master and placed her fingers on his forehead as if in blessing, hardly daring to believe she had been given such a gift. "You have been saved by the Divine Grace of Hecate. You may return to us. If you choose to return you must face your burdens and pain. You must be prepared to work at forgiveness." She paused, not removing her hand. "Come back to me Severus." She added in the voice of a pleading child, falling so her head was against his chest. "Please come back." She started weeping.

Dumbledore watched proceedings with a look of mystification, realising that he was about to witness for himself, some of the most potent magic that ever existed. He watched the bed, hoping for a miracle.

When nothing seemed to change sadness besieged him, his knowledge of the Divine Grace, limited as it was, was still enough to know that the magic would only be effective if the lost one wished to be saved. Given Severus' recent mood, Dumbledore sadly admitted to himself that that was unlikely.

He moved towards the bed, wishing to comfort his grand daughter who was weeping now at her failure. He gasped, astounded as his own despair was thrust from him as he noticed a single tear roll down Snape's cheek. "Look." He whispered reverently.

Galatea looked up, and was barely able to contain her joy. Slowly, black orbs opened and focussed. Slowly awareness, then happiness overcame the long worn look of hopelessness that had marred the dark man's features for almost his entire life. "Jane." He breathed, voice harsh after death.

"Galatea now." The girl smiled gently and climbed onto the bed, wrapping her arms around him. "Silly thing, what were you thinking?"

"You're alive?"

She touched him gently, soothing the hair from his face. "Yes, as are you." She raised herself onto her elbow and looked at him. "But if you ever try anything like that again I WILL kill you." For a brief moment her expression was solemn, before she smiled. Relaxing again, she rested her head back on his chest and listened to the regular sound of his heartbeat. "Foolish thing," she admonished gently, taking his hand in hers and holding it as though she would never let it go.

Severus breathed in deeply and sighed. Closing his eyes again, this time he rested, alive, with a sense of peace he had never expected to achieve in that state. Dumbledore watched as a gentle smile on his lips.

Dumbledore withdrew from the room, allowing the pair some privacy, and the quietude they both deserved. Closing the door to the Potions Master's chambers, and moving upwards from the dungeons, he went in search of certain others that would also be interested in what had happened that evening. Tonight they would celebrate after all.

THE END!

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You know, I have really enjoyed this. Hope you don't mind that I had to end this happily. I could hardly KILL him could I????? I feel kind of bad because I went against my original better judgment and gave this a happy ending. Those of you who do mind, and that is almost me, just forget you read the epilogue. I pondered on the end of this for a week, satisfied it was finished at Jane's death, but I just couldn't do it - not for fan fic. I think we all know the world wouldn't necessarily always end happily, I just couldn't do it.

By the way, if Jane's grandmother gave her the knife, she must have been Slytherin's heir too, that would also make Jane Slytherin's heir. I can only imagine what HE would have thought of having a Muggle heir! I can't imagine he would have been pleased.

Thanks for hanging in there with me. I enjoyed the journey, I hope you did too.

I can't guarantee there will be a sequel to this, but I don't imagine that I will be able to kick the fan fiction addiction, so keep your eyes open for something new.

Anyway, please read and review. This is the end, it is your last chance. Thank you to everyone who has joined me on this journey. I have certainly grown by writing this. Some of that nasty stuff has no place in my world and I really had to dig deep. I am glad you all enjoyed it.

On a higher level, I want to thank you all for supporting fan fiction at all. I only found it in March. Before that I never knew such a wonderful thing existed. Some fanfiction is absolutely astoundingly well written, some is less so. I hope mine falls somewhere in the middle rather than at the lower quality end. I expect I will write more, but it might be a while. I will be working on stories in about 3 weeks when I finally make it through the last of my exams. I hope you will join me on other journeys with the Potions Master in the future.

Finally, if you don't know "The Hollow Men", please go and read the whole thing. Do a google search for it or drop me an email and I will send it to you. This is a piece of writing that has stuck in my head for very close to 20 years. It is profound and disturbing, and suits Severus' desolation well.

Take care, and I love you all for your kindness and support. Hope the approaching holidays bring you joy and happiness.

Karren M. frogfoot24@hotmail.com