Epilogue

Snape entered the school infirmary alone. The dreary day had passed into a miasma. Madame Pomfrey had appeared from her summer home in Tahiti in time to patch up Dumbledore's scratch and deal with Remus's emotional shutdown.

Severus found himself cleaning his dungeons. Cauldrons, empty jars and vats, burners, dishes, floors, pots, anything he could get his hands on was scrubbed, polished, cleaned, and buffed. He ignored the outside world until he realized that the day had died away, leaving only a smudgy darkness in its wake.

"Professor Snape."

"I'm rather quite busy at the moment," he echoed from inside a particularly large cauldron.

"Professor Snape, the headmaster wants to see you in the infirmary."

The potions master dropped his scrub brush, and looked up. The bloody baron stood before him, great drops of translucent blood dripped over the floor. "I realize that your blood evaporates, but I have just cleaned in here and I can detect its residue long afterwards." The house ghost just glared at him back. "Fine, just let me get this last bit, and I'll see him when I'm finished." The Baron nodded, and floated up through the ceiling, leaving splotches behind him.

Severus cleaned himself up a bit, then headed for the infirmary. The room had become gloomy inside. Great swaths of curtains and fabric covered the high windows and even the pictures were vacant of its usual inhabitants. Madame Pomfrey met him at the door, trying to keep him out, but Dumbledore diverted her attempts. "It's quite all right, Poppy- I invited Severus."

The school healer glared at the teacher, "I don't believe that's wise, Albus, and I must protest his presence in my infirmary."

"I realize that what has transpired today has been a tragedy, but I promise that we will have a nice, long discussion about what happened." Dumbledore's eyes twinkled slightly.

Pomfrey's face grew red as she stormed out, muttering "I'll be back in Tahiti," along the way.

Severus ignored her pouting as he followed the headmaster to a heavily curtained area. Dumbledore whispered into a flower pattern, and a seam appeared. It spread apart magically, revealing an exhausted Tollie lying on the bed.

"How are you, Tollivan?" Dumbledore asked.

"Just peachy," He smiled. "Pomfrey really helped- there isn't any pain, you know," He reassured himself.

"Tollie-"

"It's okay, Professor Snape- it was for the best, really."

"I still want to- apologize."

"Wow," Tollie grinned. "Severus Snape being contrite for the first time in his life. This so made it worth it. Honestly, don't worry about it. I'm just lucky that I got off so easy." Tollie pointed to his arm.

"Are you sure that you want to do this?"

"Definitely. Just- keep an eye out on Professor Lupin for me."

Snape tried smiling. "I'll try, but you know how wolf-headed he gets."

Tollie chuckled weakly, his face blanching. "Oh, and if you ever see my parents at a Deatheater's dinner party, tell 'em to 'sod off' for me."

"It's time, Severus." Dumbledore grabbed the man's arm. Snape nodded, and let himself be led away from the boy, the curtain swishing closed behind them.

"Sit, Severus," Dumbledore ordered, scooting a chair over for the man. "This will be slightly disconcerting. Changing memories is much harder than simply erasing them."

The man nodded his assent. "Obliviate!" Dumbledore tapped Snape's head with his wand- a bright light pushed its way through Severus's skin pores, then the fused skull sutures, and then finally penetrated the brain. He slumped forward as neural pathways and braincells were being disconnected and redirected. Dumbledore pushed him back against the headrest until he regained his motor control functions.

Snape looked up at the old wizard confused. "What happened, Headmaster?"

"You've had a long night, Severus," Dumbledore replied. "I suggest that you sleep here in your chambers tonight."

"I remember blood- on the ceiling."

"Yes, we will discuss matters in the morning, but it's best that you get some sleep now. Here- I've found that these Muggle sleeping tablets work wonders." He held out a few small pills in his hand. "But whatever you do, don't chew them. Just swallow them whole."

Snape, shaky and dumb, took the pills and stumbled out of the room.

Dumbledore watched him go, the doors slamming shut, then went back to Tollie. "Now then. Have you given much thought about the future?"

"I don't know. I snapped my wand earlier. I think I'm through with magic for a while- no more street performing for me. I'm destitute, but I'm used to that, and everyone thinks I'm dead, that I'm not so used to.

"Snape did me a favor, and got rid of my small problem," Tollie wiggled his elbow, bandages had been wrapped around it where the rest of the arm used to be. "But I'm probably better off this way."

"I could get you outfitted with a prosthetic at St. Mungos." Dumbledore offered.

"No, I'll be fine. What's that Muggle saying? 'If your arm offends you, cut it off?' Once Voldemort is finally gone, I might return to England. The Death Eaters will always exist, but they won't really know what happened with me. I'll return then. Maybe."

"You are a remarkable boy, Tollivan." Dumbledore stated. "Have you given any thought as to where you want to go? I can be your secret keeper, if you wish."

"Yeah, I was thinking Australia- might get a Muggle job somewhere."

Dumbledore laughed, "Australia is a rather island- a continent, no less, for me to try to hide."

"Eh, I have confidence in you, Headmaster. And if not, there's always New Zealand." Tollie replied, his eyes fluttering with exhaustion. "I do worry about Professor Lupin, though. I wish he didn't care about me so much. That prat Potter didn't help matters, though."

"Both of them will survive, and are better to have known you. Harry has been very angry lately. He's had a hard life, and I'm afraid that it will only become harder the older he gets."

"That's true for everyone, Headmaster."

"Yes," Dumbledore replied noncommittally.

Tollie sighed, the last of his energy dying."Just watch out for Lupin- get him a job, even teaching Muggle children would work. He just needs to teach, to do something with his life. Anything to get him out of that Mausoleum. It's not healthy living in that place- too many ghosts and bad memories. I know he won't accept it if he thinks the job is coming from you, but-"

"I completely agree, Tollivan. Now get some sleep. And you needed worry anymore." Dumbledore reassured. " I hear that Australia is beautiful this time of year."

Tollie nodded off, snuggling into the starchy blankets, his right arm feeling better than it had in years.