Chapter Eight: Mirrored Memories
Voldemort lay spread-eagled at Harry's feet, his unseeing eyes dead and grey and cold like the February sky. An icy wind whipped down the street, and Tom Riddle's wand rolled slightly across the worn cobblestone road and came to rest in a crack.
The Daily Prophet would have its exclusive—Harry Potter standing motionless and stoic with his parents' memorial in the background. Ordinary wizards would raise a pint and toast the delicious irony—Voldemort slain by his own rebounding Avada Kedavra, impaled upon his own black wand. History books would write of the Chosen One and his spectacular dueling skills. The Auror Academy would implement Harry Potter's dueling style into their syllabus. Children would be seen waving replica wands and playing Aurors and Death Eaters. Arithmancers and Charms Masters would research wand angles and probability matrices for decades to come. That two spells could clash mid-air and ricochet perfectly would never be ascribed to sheer golden luck.
In the silent heartbeats that followed, Hermione glanced up and smiled at Severus Snape. In mid-Apparition spin, he returned it with a half-smile of his own and then he was gone.
Nagini lay at Severus' feet, her dismembered body twitching with remembered life as he wiped the scarlet smear of blood from his sword.
The Daily Prophet would have its mystery to ponder when circulation dwindled—Severus Snape: sinner or scoundrel,saviour or saint? Ordinary wizards would raise a pint and toast the delicious irony—Voldemort thwarted by his own right hand, deceived by his best-loved disciple. History books would write of the Dark Deceiver and his spectacular Legilimency skills. The Auror Academy would implement Muggle martial arts into their syllabus. Children would be seen waving replica katanas and playing Sneaky Spy. Magical theorists and historians would debate his true allegiance for decades to come. That a man could spend a lifetime atoning for his horrifying mistakes would never be considered.
In the silent heartbeats that followed, Severus turned on his heel and lifted his head for one last look at Hermione. She was smiling at him. In mid-Apparition spin, he returned the smile and then he was gone.
Swirling quicksilver reflected in shimmering ripples on Hermione's face as she watched Harry navigate her selected Pensieved memories--a kaleidoscope of truth.
Lies and deception had their place in the past, and it wouldn't be long before she stumbled over a tangled thread of her lies. The memories were intensely private, but they had to be shared. Harry had been Hermione's friend for years, and he deserved to know where most of their intelligence had come from.
Hermione smiled as Severus Snape's face flickered on the mirrored surface one last time before the memory strands twisted and writhed into a vortex. She stepped back to allow Harry room as the Pensieve disgorged him.
His face was paper-pale and he pressed his lips together before he glanced up at her with haunted green eyes. "Why didn't you tell me then?"
"Because you hated him," she said simply. And because it was easier for me to lie than to explain. Because I didn't trust you to be rational.
Harry looked like he was going to cry. He swallowed and gazed up at the ornately pressed ceiling. "I would have wanted to know. I deserved to know."
She nodded. "You did, yes." And I'm sorry
Fluid, silver memories swirled restlessly in the Pensieve as he waited for Draco to navigate his selected Pensieved memories. He closed his eyes for a moment, frowning, before he opened his eyes to watch his past.
Lies and deception had their place in the past. Eventually Draco would notice and examine the inconsistencies of the last few months, question Snape's motives. The memories were intensely private, but they had to be shared. Sometime since the Astronomy Tower and their subsequent flight, Draco had become important to Snape.
Severus grimaced as Albus Dumbledore's face flickered on the mirrored surface one last time before the memory strands twisted and writhed into a vortex. He stepped back to allow Draco room as the Pensieve expelled him.
Draco's face was winter-white, and he pressed his shaking fingertips to his lips before he glanced up at Severus with haunted grey eyes. "Why didn't you tell me then?"
"Because you were a child," he said simply. And because you hated Potter and Dumbledore. Because I thought you your father's child for a time. Because I didn't trust you to be rational.
Draco looked like he was going to cry. He swallowed and gazed up at the age-spotted ceiling. "I would have wanted to know. I deserved to know. You had no right to take my memories."
He nodded. "I thought I did." And I'm sorry.
Hermione was early. She sat on the grass a way back from the cordoned off barrier and watched the tourists walk around Stonehenge, taking photographs and theorising about astronomical importance or pagan rituals with wide arm gestures. Hermione smiled to herself; not even the Unspeakables knew what Stonehenge's purpose had been.
The shadows cast by the enormous stones grew shorter as midday approached, and she began to scan the milling crowd with an anxious eye. Conversation through canvas lent a certain familiarity with her old teacher, but there was nothing quite like the intimacy of a face-to-face meeting. The confidence she'd felt under Felix's golden spell faded as the minute hand of her watch inched inexorably towards the hour.
She glanced up from her watch to see him walking straight towards her. He was wearing dark blue jeans and a black trench coat, and his dark hair whipped around his head, licking towards the sky. He was Severus Snape, certainly, but not the Potions teacher or the Dark wizard or the brave spy. He was her Severus. Just a man.
It felt like he'd Apparated to that very spot a moment ago, although Hermione knew he couldn't have. She stood up and began to walk towards him. He mirrored her tentative smile, and her heart was beating at double speed by the time he stopped in front of her.
"Hello, Hermione," he said.
Severus was precisely on time. He walked past the tourists walking around Stonehenge, taking photographs and wondering if the monument had some special significance. Of course it did, he thought. But its magical relevance had been lost to time, perhaps erased by an astute congregation of wizards who would not want that information in Dark hands.
He began to scan the milling crowd with a practiced eye. Outwardly he was calm, but his stomach was knotted and twisted. He felt like a fourteen-year-old on his first Yule Ball date; an experience he'd not care to repeat. Hermione's face was familiar by now, but late night conversations were not quite the same as facing the woman he loved.
He would never be able to explain his sense of relief when he saw her sitting on the grass a little away from the crowd. He began to walk towards her with a measured and determined stride. She stood, and the brisk wind tugged her brown skirt around slim calves as she began to walk towards him. Streamers of curly hair escaped from a braid danced like ribbons on the air. She was Hermione Granger, certainly, but not the student or the brilliant mind or Harry Potter's valued friend and advisor. She was his Hermione. Just a woman.
She smiled at him as they neared, and he smiled in return. He stopped a short distance from her, feeling uncharacteristically shy. He felt that he should have said something profoundly more meaningful that what came out of his mouth, but he changed his mind a moment later when he heard her say his name with such love in her voice that he could scarcely believe it was for him.
"Hello, Severus," she said.
He was perfect. Some might say that he was too thin, too white. Others might say he had too little chest hair, too little muscle, or too little sex appeal to make up for his unhandsome face.
But he was hers...the hands that reached out to touch her body were his, and the mouth that kissed hers was his, and his heart and mind and body were perfect.
She was perfect. Some might say that she was too curvy, too freckled. Others might say that she was not lithe enough, or that she had too little skill to compensate for her shrewish temperament.
But she was his...the hands that reached out to touch his body were hers, and the mouth that kissed his was hers, and her heart and mind and body were perfect.
My heart has found its mirrored soul.
I am home.
A/N: Thanks to gelsey for checking this through for me :)
The slightly longer version of the final scene was cut from this particular version.
The end has been a long time coming, I know. But this fic has grown with me from my very first days in the fandom. And it has been a pleasure!