HBP Spoilers. One shot.
Rowling: All hers.
Hagrid listened to the pouring rain. It'd been only a few days since Dumbledore was buried here. He'd been out to the tomb a dozen times already. It was strange weather for June, but it seemed right, somehow, that the sky was crying too. He put away the funny note he'd gotten just yesterday. It couldn't be right, but it was signed with the dead wizard's own name and everything, and the half-giant was sure he knew what that looked like.
He sighed, tamped his pipe out, and got on his weatherproof. Aragog's grave might need tending in this wet. All the world would take care of the Headmaster's, but he was the only one who'd care for the old spider.
Hagrid trudged out past the pumpkin patch, and past the lean-to he'd set up for Buckbeak. The hippogriff fussed and whined. No creature with feathers cared much for rain.
It'd been good of the kiddies to come see his old friend Aragog off. He knew that 'Gog's children would be after him now, but he still had trouble being frightened of them. Now, that poor Weasley boy jumped like a skyrocket at the sight of a regular spider after his little trudge in the Forest, but the other two were a bit more sensible.
He saw the Headmaster's tomb gleaming in the night, clean-washed by the rain, after he'd firmed up the mound over the Acromantula with a few more rocks. No, not quite clean—there was a big splat of mud over by one corner that wouldn't wash off. The groundskeeper wiped his eyes. Better to get whatever it was off now, while the water was coming down free of hauling, than wait for later. Besides, the new Headmistress stopped by every morning. Wouldn't be right to make her look at the mess.
Hagrid approached the tomb carefully. It might not be a splotch of mud, but some beast come in from the Forest caught on the grounds that only wanted to shelter a bit from the weather. He'd never grudge it that, but it'd be best to come from the other side.
He could move quietly, far more quietly than most expected. There were lots of things in the Forest, and some of them were meaner and bigger than he was.
It was a person, curled up in a ball. Well, someone talking to himself anyway. It was hard to tell in this rain. He crouched down on the other side of the tomb and put his ear to the side of the stone. Sometimes sound carried better through rock than this wet.
Hagrid bit his lip as he recognized the hoarse voice, choking with sobs. Now that surely couldn't be right. He'd never dare come back, not after what he did. The half-giant pressed his ear so hard against the tomb now that it hurt.
"Albus…why did you make me swear to do it? Why didn't you let me die? It's not worth it. Oh, he tells me everything now. He really trusts me. But how do I let the Order know what I've learned? They won't believe me. I was teaching Poppy how to make the potion for you. I would have taught the know-it-all, if you'd let me. Why, Albus? I didn't want to kill you, I don't care about any of your damned plans…" The words dissolved into harsh weeping, and then into hiccupy breathing. "I'm…I'm just glad you let me teach those wretched brats some of what I really know. It saved their idiotic lives that night. Even Potter was paying attention last year. Oh, Albus, I tried so hard with him. I tried so hard with Draco. You were right…I couldn't let Draco kill. I couldn't let him become like me. I'm trying to get him to come back next year, but I don't know if there's room here for him any more. Potter almost killed him. It was all I could do not to hex the brat…
"Albus…you kept telling me that love was stronger than any power the Dark Lord has. I had it for Lily, but she loved James. I had it for you, but you loved Harry. I wish…I wish someone had some for me. But don't worry. I haven't changed sides. There is no side for me. Don't think there ever was…but I promised. I promised, and I won't break it. I didn't break my promise to you before. I won't now. Please…please don't make me wait too long. Please, Albus, please, it's so hard..."
Now the voice was quiet and dull. Hagrid wiped tears of his own from his eyes. He understood the note now. He stood up and coughed gently. But instead of springing to his feet and pointing his wand, Severus Snape stayed huddled on the ground, rain pouring down his lank hair. "Snape?" the half-giant said. "Get up now, this is no place for anyone."
The flat black eyes looked up. "Isn't it?"
Hagrid felt anger rise up in him, remembering how much he'd loved the old Headmaster. "I should kill you!" he said. "I should call the Aurors! How dare you come here!
"I wish you would," Snape said. "I want to be dead." He leaned his head against the tomb. "No, better call Potter and let him do it. He'll enjoy it more."
Then Hagrid finally understood what he'd heard. "Why'd Dumbledore want you to kill him, anyway? That doesn't make any sense."
"His hand didn't heal, Hagrid. It was never going to. It hurt him a lot, and it was making him sick all the time," the former Potions Master said quietly. "At first, he only needed unicorn blood once a month. The herd lined up like beggars in a queue to let him have some. He needed it more often by the time he died. I tried making the Philosopher's Stone on my own, but it didn't work. I asked him for help and he wouldn't give it to me. Said he'd lived too long already to see everything he had. By then I'd made that stupid Unbreakable Oath with Cissa for her idiotic son. Did you know, he almost had Draco ready to give himself up…" Snape turned his face toward the stone of the tomb. "Drinking that horrible potion to get the Horcrux was killing him. I could see it on his face. It would have taken him a week to die." He lifted up his wand hand, and Hagrid flinched till he saw it was empty.
"I wish I could cut it off. But then, I've wanted to cut off the other arm for a lot longer. But I can't figure out a way to cut them both off at the same time. Unless I had help." Snape looked up at the half-giant, a wild look of madness in his eyes. "Would you do it?"
"No!" Hagrid said in horror. "Stand up, Snape. I've got to get you out of this wet. You'll catch your death staying out like this."
"That's what I was hoping for," the dark wizard said, now staring at his right hand, still up in the air.
The groundskeeper understood the short note he'd received yesterday now. "Stand up, damn you!" he roared.
"Oh, well, if you insist." Snape quietly gathered himself together and levered himself up, bracing himself against the stone. "No doubt people come here every morning to leave flowers," he said.
"The Headmistress does," Hagrid said, chewing his lip. "I got a note yesterday. Dumbledore signed it. It was about you. I almost threw it into the fireplace. Now I don't know what to do."
"I'm surprised you haven't turned me in already."
"People don't lie to the dead," the half-giant said. "I wish…I just wish there was a way he could still tell me what to do."
"If he's got a portrait in the Headma—I mean, the Headmistress's office, he might," Snape said. "But he probably won't tell anybody about what really happened till after Harry's killed me," he added in an off-hand voice. He looked down at the tomb and patted it with his hand. "They'll worship Dumbledore. Harry will get all the glory he wants. But me? They'll spit on my grave for the next thousand years." He paused a moment. "Hagrid? I'm so tired of people hating me. I know you hate what I did. I hate what I did. Could you bury me…bury me where they won't find me? I don't care where. You can even put me next to that spider of yours. I won't care…I've always been one of your uglier pets anyway. I just…just don't want them standing over me throwing filth…I should be used to it, I suppose, but I can't stand it any more."
Hagrid blinked his eyes. Rain got in them and blurred them. "Damn it, Snape, I'm not burying you tonight!" He strode forward, picked the man up as he had a few times before, and took him to the hut. Buckbeak pulled against the chain trying to get at his burden, but Hagrid elbowed the hippogriff away as he entered his cottage. Without saying a word he ripped off the wizard's wet clothes and wrapped him in dry blankets. Snape huddled in them, his eyes blank, and sipped at the firewhiskey in his cup as if it were medicine. Without a word he passed out.
The half-giant put him to bed. The gaunt man was thinner than he'd ever been before. Hagrid took out Dumbledore's note and read it again. There were only two words on it, and the signature. "Help Severus."
He didn't know what to do. He couldn't leave a rabid wolf out in the rain the way Severus had been, but if anyone else found him he would be dead, and soon. Or worse. Moody had come back from Spain just in time for the funeral. Hagrid's ears still rang from the retired Auror's screams of wrath. He'd had to pour half a jug of Ogden's down the one-eyed man before he'd calmed down. Moody had been very imaginative before he'd finally fallen, and so had the other men who had gathered out here after the burial to commiserate and drink themselves into a stupor. Only Lupin and Filch had stayed quiet. Everyone else had tried to outdo themselves into thinking of a proper reception for the traitor. Moody had mentioned spells that had never gotten onto the books that rivaled any of the Unforgivables, and swore he'd try them all out on Snape.
Then Mad-Eye had looked with an evil grin at Lupin. "I know one thing he won't like at all," he'd said quietly. "Only we'll have to wait for a full moon."
Lupin had gone for Moody then. "Then you'll have to find another werewolf to play your little games, Mad-Eye!" the wolf had shouted, not looking tired or gray at all just then. "I want to rip his throat out myself, don't get me wrong. But I spent seven long years listening to the Marauders playing let's-torture-Snape without saying a word, and I swore I'd never do that again. If you want to push him into the Veil where Sirius went, then fine! I'll help! But none of your goddamned little schemes. Have any of you noticed that he didn't take Harry with him when he left? The boy chased after him long enough. Harry's told me all about it. But when the other Death Eaters showed up and gave him a Crucio to grow on, Snape told them to leave him, that he was to be saved out for er, you know. If Snape was really as bad as you say, Harry would be gone, too."
"Now that's nonsense," Moody had said, grumbling. "Potter's just better than anyone thinks."
"I'm only telling you what Harry told me. Snape batted all but one curse aside like snowflakes, and only spanked him a little bit at the end. Let's face it, Moody, when you had him he wasn't allowed a wand. And that was nearly twenty years ago. Even Sirius knew better than to go further with Snape than he had to his last year. There's something funny going on, and don't call me a sympathizer or a traitor for saying so. I'd die for Harry, and you know it. Well, the rest of you go ahead and get drunk and dream up ways to torment Snape. You've wanted to all these years anyway. Not you, Hagrid, you're one of the few people that was ever decent to him."
"And so was Dumbledore! Look what it got him!" Moody had retorted.
"I'm not going to defend that! But you've never really taught here. You never saw how the Headmaster would cut him down in a moment if he thought it would make Harry happy. I never realized it myself till I had time to think about things. You see, I stood on the edge of that happy sunshine and thought I deserved it. Once I'd threatened Harry, even though I didn't mean to, I wasn't such a favorite any more. Let's just say he accepted my resignation quite eagerly, and for the few days I had left before it took effect were not quite as pleasant. He was always a good friend after that, but only when I was obviously not a threat. You'll notice that the Headmaster rarely visited Grimmauld Place during the full moon, and discouraged Harry from doing so as well. But I digress. Perhaps it was the Dementors around the place that year, but Snape always seemed like a prisoner when I saw him at Hogwarts. I'm sure I'll be glad to help catch him, and if I am offered the opportunity to assist, will gladly push him into the next world. But if you plan to play with him first, you'll have to get someone else." At that Lupin had left.
Filch had stood up next. "He was the only one here who treated me like a human being, and not just a poor little Squib. I don't hold with him killing the Headmaster, of course, but if I can't give the Weasley twins what they deserve, then you can't do it to him." He also stomped out, almost as furious as Lupin had been.
The others had gone on for a bit on what they'd love to do to Snape after that, but the fun was out of it for them somehow. What Lupin had said about Harry had made Hagrid think a bit, though the whiskey had gone to his head, too, and it wasn't till now that it had come back to him.
He dozed off at the table, the level in the whiskey jug somewhat lower than it had been. When he woke up, the bed was empty, the blankets neatly folded, and a double dose of Hangover Potion sitting on the table. Hagrid drank it eagerly. For once he remembered the previous evening. He'd been drinking too much since the Headmaster's death. It was already noon.
The half-giant met the new Headmistress at the tomb the next morning and told her. "I still wonder if I didn't just drink or dream the whole thing, but those blankets were never folded the day before, and that Hangover Potion didn't walk to my table. It was his make, too, it always has more ginger in it than anybody else's." And then he told her what Lupin had said about Harry after the funeral.
Minerva wearily nodded. She didn't look like she'd slept for days. "The Headmaster's portrait hasn't woken up yet. And when it does, Mr. Potter probably wouldn't believe it anyway if Albus says what you said he might."
"What should I do, Pro—I mean, Headmistress?" He gulped saying that. It didn't feel natural. Dippet'd been there before Dumbledore, and he'd been Headmaster too.
"Do what the note says," she replied. "I wouldn't be able to talk to him the way you did. I'd turn him into a hedgehog and then feed him to Buckbeak, I think."
"Do you think he could be right?" Hagrid didn't know.
"He and Albus had a lot of talks this last year that I wasn't at," McGonagall said, blinking. "I don't have enough information. If things happened as Mr. Potter describes, then it is interesting that he wasn't taken from us that night. Despite his current self-assurance, and his marked improvement in wandless skills, he is still no match for Severus. I would not care to go up against the man himself if he did not pull his blows. I find it hard to believe that he still wants to leave information for the Order."
"Couldn't he leave it with me?"
"Yes. I want you to memorize whatever is given to you then recite it to me. I don't think I could look at anything he's written without burning it. At least not yet."
That made sense. It'd be dangerous to leave notes around anyway. "I can do that, Headmistress." There. It was getting easier each time.
Over the summer he found notes in his hut when he'd wake up in the mornings. Hagrid was glad he'd starting leaving out food and drink lately, because sometimes a hole got made in that, too. Buckbeak always fussed those nights, though after a while the hippogriff calmed down. Hagrid gave the information to McGonagall. Hagrid didn't know who she gave it to. But he always forgot clean about it whenever Harry came to visit. He was a young man, now, and didn't have to live with his relatives any more.
In fact, one morning he woke up, saw a note, and was just about to read it when Harry stopped by. Hagrid guiltily stuffed it in his pocket. The boy would skin him if he knew that Snape was still writing. Or alive, for that matter.
"What's that?" Harry said.
Ah, it did his heart good to see the lad smile again, though of course his heart wasn't really in it yet. "Aw, nuthin'," Hagrid said, his face turning red.
Harry grinned. "Madame Maxine, maybe?"
"Could be," Hagrid replied. It wasn't really lying, was it? He hadn't actually read it yet. And he had sent an owl to the woman last week.
They sat down and had a nice chat. It was good to see how Harry was shaping up these days, him and that Ginny. Everyone could see which way the wind blew there, even if they were taking things slow with the war and all. Miss Hermione was still bossing Ron around, and no doubt would for the rest of both their lives. Molly beamed at all of them, especially during Bill and Fleur's wedding. Probably trying to figure out if she could talk them into having both their weddings at once to reduce wear and tear on the Burrows, and only having to cook for one set, he thought.
That night he tended Aragog's grave, though it didn't really need it. He leaned on the specially-reinforced rake and thought about what Snape had said. The poor man had a point. He'd seen how Snape had been treated all the time since he'd been a student. Hagrid still couldn't forgive him for killing Dumbledore, but as long as they didn't see each other, it didn't bother him as much. McGonagall was always happy to get whatever new information came by, and said it'd been a help. But the Headmaster's portrait was still asleep. He could tell Minerva was worried about it, though one of the older ones said it was normal, and said he'd been out for most of a year after his death. "The older they are when they die, the longer it takes them to come back to a portrait," the black-clad former Headmaster had said from his painting.
"Oh, dear," McGonagall had said.
Maybe Snape had been right about nobody backing up his story till it was too late. Now, that was a gloomy thought. Hagrid measured the grave by eye. The spider hadn't needed a big one, really; he'd shrunk with age and had folded up pretty good. There was plenty of room for someone else, if they didn't mind just a shroud. Snape made people think he was taller than he really was by the way he stood and walked. He'd fold up, too. Then Hagrid brightened. If he didn't get the right answers when the old Headmaster's portrait woke up, he could do a lot more than spit on the grave. The spider wouldn't mind.
That cheered him up no end. But he'd still keep it private. He could probably charge for the privilege, but it'd be more fun to be the only one in the know.
Hagrid was in the Great Hall when all the Slytherins walked out. The Hat hadn't chosen very many to begin with, and had stopped choosing any after the first three had been hissed at. One little girl had gotten a book thrown at her. Once the Sorting was over, there had been a whispered conference among the few Snakes who had come back, they all stood up, and as one marched out of the castle. Malfoy hadn't been one of them, of course, he hadn't come back, but Crabbe and Goyle had, but had gone with all the others. Hagrid had always felt sorry for the two; they'd never have gotten in nearly so much trouble with that little blond brat to mislead them. But then, that could be said of a lot of Gryffindors, too.
The Hat cried when they left. But Hagrid and the teachers at the Head Table were the only ones to hear it. Everyone else was cheering loudly at the students' departure—well, except for Miss Hermione and a few of the Ravenclaws. They just looked thoughtful. After it was over, the Headmistress ripped into them and at least got them quiet, even if they didn't agree with her that they should be ashamed of themselves.
The morning after, she was at the grave. Hagrid always woke up earlier when that happened any more. He heard her talking to the tomb. "Well, Albus, We finally did it. All the Slytherins are gone now, except for a couple of teachers. We had to work hard at it, but it's done at last. I hope you can rest easier now."
The half-giant might have taken her seriously if it hadn't been for the tears on her face. He stepped up and said, "Headmistress, I don't understand."
"I do now. I was up all night going over records. Do you know, if a Slytherin and a Gryffindor do the same thing that we always punish the Slytherin more? I wondered about that once, but Albus told me it's because they're so good at hiding what they do. So if we catch them doing something, it's certain that they've already done more and just haven't been caught yet. Don't most of us blame Slytherin for everything that goes wrong already?"
Hagrid remembered he'd done the same thing. "I told Harry that all the dark wizards came from Slytherin and that he should be happy he wasn't in it. I told him he should be proud of his parents and be like them."
"Yet we know that's not true," Minerva said. "Some Slytherin families supported Grindelwald, but so did families from the other houses, too. I went over fifty years back. It all started when Riddle began school here. My sweet Albus worried about him, and watched Tom more carefully than he did all the rest. Naturally he ended up paying more attention to the boy's friends and associates, which were, of course, all Slytherin. By the time…by the time Snape started going here, we'd been keeping Lucius Malfoy on the same kind of watch. And his friends and associates, of course, naturally all of whom were in Slytherin. We paid very little attention to James Potter and his friends, though what they were doing was far worse. We told Harry what he wanted to hear, and not the truth, about them. I know you did the same.
"I also found something in the records. Whenever a Slytherin and a Gryffindor tell different stories, we almost always believe the Gryffindor side."
"Well, of course," Hagrid said.
"But it didn't used to be that way," McGonagall said, dark circles under her eyes. "Before my darling began teaching here, and of course before he became Headmaster, it ran about fifty-fifty, especially during the old days when teachers were a little more free with Truth charms. I talked to Binns about that. When Harry came here, you knew about Sirius Black, but you never told the boy about him. Back then we thought Sirius supported him, and had betrayed Harry's parents. But you only talked about Slytherin. Poor Severus tried so hard to reverse the favoritism, but it never did any good. Albus could overrule him, and did, more than you think. I'm sure Harry complained about the extra points Slytherins got in Potions class, but did he ever notice how many he got in the others?"
Hagrid scratched under his beard. "But he did so many good things!"
"So did other students. But somehow we always remember what Harry did better. We probably always will."
The half-giant recalled all the visits the three Gryffindors had made to his cottage. He'd loved them. He still did. But they hadn't taken his class last year, and several Slytherins had, including Vincent Crabbe. Maybe it was because Malfoy had been such a prat, but he'd always kept them to the back and never really trusted them. But Crabbe was always careful, and even the Blast-Ended Skrewts had behaved around him. "I didn't give him any extra points, either," he muttered to himself.
"Young Mr. Crabbe, and him with such a light hand with the beasts, too. I do the same thing as everybody else."
"Well, not quite. Flitwick is usually fair, and so is Sprout. In fact, Flitwick was the one who helped me with the numbers once I asked. But they're not Gryffindors."
"It was the Snakes' decision to walk out," Hagrid added feebly.
"So it was. And I'm sure we'll all be able to blame them for everything that happens this year because of it. But what happens in years to come? Who gets to be the house that everyone despises when we no longer have Slytherin around?"
"I don't either. You know, maybe it's not a coincidence that the Hufflepuffs who go into the Ministry resist anything a Gryffindor tells them."
"But they don't get picked on."
"They don't get much of anything," Minerva said with a sad face.
"Why don't they speak up, then?"
"Both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw have eyes, Hagrid. They see what happens to the house that dares to protest Gryffindor supremacy. I wondered out loud about this to both Flitwick and Sprout, and they didn't say anything to me. But their eyes, Hagrid. Their eyes spoke volumes. And one last thing. When Slughorn was last head of Slytherin, he did nothing to stop the Marauders, either. Oh, he made a few feeble protests, but the Headmaster told him to stop complaining and to watch his own House for trouble instead. You can't tell me you didn't notice what happened to Snape all those years."
Hagrid bowed his head.
"I'm sure other students noticed, too. Over half of Slytherin in those years either took the Dark Mark soon after they left or were in families that supported He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named in other ways. We blamed them for being evil, of course. But maybe they were just desperate. Albus talked to me about that a few times, usually late at night when he was too tired to play Headmaster. That was when he started putting Gryffindors and Slytherins together in the same classes all the time. But that obviously didn't work either."
"Slytherins start fights all the time."
"That's wrong, too, and you know it," Minerva said. "We'd all like to believe it, of course, rather than admit our darling Lions could ever do anything wrong. But to hiss an eleven-year-old girl and to throw a book at her because the Sorting Hat put her in Slytherin—well, I'm sure Albus would have been quite distressed over that. But I don't think he would have changed anything he did because of it. I have to, if I want to have a school at all. I wish I knew what to do to get them to come back."
"Well, they won't this year," Hagrid said. "Snape is the only one who could do it, and of course he's not coming back after killing the Headmaster."
"I really hope he was lying to you about Dumbledore's plan," Minerva said.
"Because that means the Headmaster was willing to let everyone hate Snape for obeying a order given to him by the same man who lies here now. Severus said one time that Albus didn't care what happen to all of Slytherin if it would make a Gryffindor happy. I thought he was just whinging. Now I'm afraid he may be right. Of course, if Albus were alive today, he would cite the necessity of war. But did this war have to happen at all? We suspected Slytherin of evil no matter what they did. Should we be surprised when they decide there's no point fighting it?"
Hagrid didn't have an answer for that. "What about Harry?" he asked.
"I don't know. I haven't heard from him, and he didn't return. I know something of what he's doing, but it's hard to explain. I also know that he is absolutely determined to kill Snape. By now I think Dumbledore could rise from the grave and tell him not to, and it wouldn't matter." She wiped her eyes. "Severus was my friend. How could he do this?"
"Dunno, Headmistress." Hagrid didn't understand either.
Poor old Slughorn hadn't known what to do once the Snakes had gone. Hagrid remembered him, though not as fondly as some did. Dumbledore had been the only one to speak up for him when he'd been expelled. And all over a harmless spider! It had been Tom Riddle all along. Nobody missed Sluggy when he resigned a few days later, though McGonagall hadn't found anyone to teach either Defense or Potions. Nor Astronomy. Sinistra resigned not long afterwards as well.
Lupin had come by to visit just a few days ago, just as the kiddies left for Christmas. Hagrid shoveled some snow out the way, and remembered how the wolf had looked. Him and Miss Tonks were walking out, or so he'd heard, and he'd asked about that. Lupin had smiled then, and looked ten years younger. "She keeps saying she won't let me go. I worry, though. Miss Granger says she'll make the Wolfsbane Potion for me, but she hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet."
"So, where you doing the change at?" Hagrid asked, always curious about werewolves. "You know Madam Pomfrey'd let you use the Shrieking Shack again if you had to. I can put a new lock on it, or stick the cage from the Black house in it."
"Now, that's the funny part," Remus said, an odd look on his face. "Someone keeps owling the potion to me. It's always a different bird, too, so that's no help."
Hagrid decided he should play stupid on this one. "How should I know? I haven't seen Snape, if that's who you're talking about." And he hadn't, either. Not since that night at the Headmaster's tomb.
"I didn't expect you had. I sniff it, of course, before I use it. I'm not that foolish. I feel…I feel like I'm betraying Dumbledore by using it, though."
"Well, if you do more for the Order because you're not sick, isn't that good?"
Lupin had made a face. "I hate it when you're right."
They'd talked a little more then, and Remus had gone looking for Miss Tonks.
Hagrid woke up Christmas Day and dressed warmly to go to the castle. He stopped and whistled when he saw the Headmaster's tomb. It was covered in holly and lit up like a Christmas tree. Then he choked back a sob when he remembered how much Dumbledore had liked the holiday—like a child about that, really.
He gasped a moment when he noticed two footprints in the snow, though—not the little ones of Flitwick that he expected, but the long, narrow ones of someone else. Yes—there was an indentation and a little mark in the snow where someone had leaned a broom while they stood by the tomb. "Happy Christmas, Snape," he muttered quietly.
It was spring again, and the school had gotten used to going without the Slytherins. The extra tables had been removed from the Great Hall and the rest moved up more closely together. Fights still broke out. Mischief was still managed. Peeves harassed people even more than he used to, because the Slytherin ghosts kept to their own Tower, including the Baron. It was kind of a relief not to worry about what explosion could be happening in Potions, though Madam Pomfrey looked white and exhausted even though she had fewer students to look after. Minerva fretted about that once when she was visiting the tomb. "She has to brew or buy all the potions now. Even Sluggy wasn't a bad brewer, and had his classes make a lot of the basic ones. But there are some potions we just can't get any more."
"Lemme guess, you looked up in the records and we never had that problem when Snape was teaching here," Hagrid said.
"Got it in one," Minerva replied. "Fortunately the records also show what we used to do before then. But I fear we are making Miss Granger and a few of her friends work much too hard to make up for it. She could teach first year potions today, but it wouldn't be fair. I don't know if there ought to be a Potions NEWT or OWL this year. Or Defense against the Dark Arts. Or Astronomy. I asked Lupin if he would come back to teach again, but he won't touch it. Nor will any one else who actually knows anything. I'd rather leave the position open than put a Lockhart or an Umbridge in it!" she added vehemently. "As for Potions or Astronomy, it seems that because a Slytherin taught them before, nobody else seems to want to touch them, except for a few who should not be teaching anybody. One even said all three of those positions are cursed." Then she bowed her head. "Hooch has complained all year because her schedule was never designed for only three teams. We may have to cancel Quidditch next year."
"That would be horrible!" They'd only done that during the Plague and the last year of the Grindelwald war. Hagrid thought about all the stories in the paper he'd been hearing about lately, though. They were in a war.
"I know. But having the children in one large group outside may not be a good idea, either."
That turned out to be true. The attack came just as the children were gathering to go to the train after the sadly diminished Leaving Feast. A huge shadow fell over the sky as a mass of wizards and witches on brooms, along with a few dragons and threstals, approached Hogwarts. Hagrid knew what he must do and where he must go. McGonagall had rehearsed all the staff. As he had at the beginning of the year, he gathered up all the first years and herded them inside to the Great Hall. He then blew a whistle. All the house elves lined up, even Winky, and took the smallest children with them. No one would harm them as long as one elf stood, and the elves knew the inside of Hogwarts better than anyone.
Hagrid ran outside and fought, now that his charges were as safe as they could be made. He was never quite sure what exactly happened in the battle afterwards, except that he had scars he didn't remember getting, and that he ended up with an Order of Merlin out of it, which he later hung carefully in the kitchen and polished once a week (when he thought about it, anyway).
But he would always recall what happened at its end. The Death Eaters and their allies had been driven back into the Quidditch pitch. Harry Potter and his friends formed a tight triangle as they advanced. Hagrid saw the enemy, too. Voldemort stood in the center of his own guards, Lucius Malfoy like a fallen archangel on his right and Snape like a shadow on the left.
Then it happened. A greenish shimmer of air that swirled around the three Dark wizards failed. Hermione Granger chanted and waved her wand, but she was thrown into the air at a gesture from Riddle. Ron Weasley tried to grab her, but missed, then tripped over his own feet and hit the ground.
Severus Snape laughed, which clearly infuriated Harry Potter. Instead of sending his next spell at the Dark Lord, he shot a curse at Snape instead, which the former Potions Master deflected. Voldemort took the opportunity to gleefully lob a curse at his enemy. Ron suddenly sprang up and shielded his friend, though he screamed when it hit him instead.
Hagrid was absolutely certain that he saw Snape pull something out of his robe and shove it into Lucius Malfoy, and told everybody that later on, even if they didn't believe him. At any rate, Malfoy fell, and Snape turned as if to defend the Dark Lord from an attack coming from that direction.
Harry looked down at Ron, grimaced, and then engaged Riddle in a prolonged exchange of spells. Then everyone heard phoenix song as the two brother wands locked into each other.
Hagrid eased forward. Maybe he could get the Weasley boy out of the way before things got too ugly. Miss Granger was also making her way back, though she was running into some difficulty with some Devil's Snare that didn't mind the light so much as it ought.
Another spell leaped onto the Dark Lord—slashes appeared on Riddle's face and bled freely. Hagrid was close enough by this time to hear He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named snarl, "Do something, Snape!"
Severus Snape smiled, and plunged his wand into the back of Voldemort's neck. At least Hagrid was willing to give oath that was what he saw, though only McGonagall believed him later. And maybe Miss Granger, too. The Dark Lord staggered, but had presence of mind enough to grab Snape and push the other wizard in front of him.
At that point Harry Potter pulled out the Sword of Gryffindor and hurled it as if it were a spear towards both wizards with a grim smile on his face. "Two for the price of one!" the boy cried as the blade flew towards them.
Now, Hagrid knew several spells that would deflect that sword. Even someone who didn't mind getting his hands cut would at least try to bat it aside. But Snape only smiled sadly and grabbed the Dark Lord's wand hand with both of his own.
The sword pierced them both and they fell. Harry ran up to the fallen bodies, seized the hilt of the blade, and stabbed them both over and over. Riddle's body dissolved into ashes, but Snape's only bled. Malfoy's had rolled over to one side.
Hagrid ran towards the scene, while Miss Granger, finally past the tangling plants which had taken root in the pitch, went to Ron Weasley. "Stop it, Harry," the half-giant said. "Snape kept him from fighting back, didn't you see?"
"I hate him, I hate him, I hate him!" Harry gasped, continuing to stab the former Potions Master. "He's been rotten to me from the first day, and I hate him! He killed Dumbledore, Hagrid! Why don't you hate him, too? You always told me Dumbledore was a great man. Why aren't you helping me?"
"Because he's dead already, Harry. I mean, Snape is. You can't make him any deader."
"You don't understand!"
"Oh, Harry, it's over. The Dark Lord is dead and so is Snape. You don't have to hate anyone any more." Hagrid gathered the boy in his arms, sword and all. "Come on back and let Poppy take a look at you. Miss Hermione's taken Ron off, let's go see how he's doing."
The young man went pale. "I forgot. I wasn't paying attention and he got hurt. Let me go, Hagrid, I can walk."
"All right," said the half-giant as he set Harry down.
As the hero walked away, Hagrid looked at the mess. Snape's body was the only one there, not counting Malfoy. But Riddle had disappeared like this before. What if he came back again. Wait a minute, there was a way to check. Snape had always had some scarring on his left arm, even though it hadn't gone dark till a couple of years ago. He lifted up Snape's left sleeve, now soaked with blood. That arm hadn't gotten cut up too much. The forearm was just plain skin now. But maybe that's only because he's dead, Hagrid thought.
He waited for McGonagall and Flitwick, and reported to them what he'd seen. Maybe they could make sense of it. Malfoy's body was free of the Mark, too, but he was dead as well. "I know it was Snape who killed him," Hagrid stubbornly repeated.
"You're probably right," Flitwick said with a sigh. "But nobody is going to believe it. People will make up their own stories, and before it's over Harry will have held off all three of them by himself." He blinked. "Severus was my friend, too, and I'd like to believe he was a hero as well. But nobody will want to hear it."
"But is He-I mean, is Voldemort really gone?"
"I'll check one of the prisoners," Flitwick said. "I could always tell the Mark was on Severus, whether it was active or not. I should be able to tell that on someone else that we know took it."
Hagrid thought of something. "Harry swore that Draco took the Mark the summer before last. Did anybody see him today?"
"No," said Minerva. "He wasn't here. In fact, I didn't see any of the former students here." She looked thoughtful.
Flitwick took a sample of the ash, though very carefully. "You had better not touch this, Hagrid. In fact, I'll brush off this bit that's on Snape right now. I fear someone had better do something with his body, or people will do something ridiculous like dragging it through Diagon Alley because they don't have anything else to do. I wouldn't mind seeing that done to Malfoy, but his wife is already out here looking for him. We must respect her rights."
"I'll help," said Miss Hermione, who had come back, though she looked deathly pale. "And no, I won't throw up, in case anybody is asking."
McGonagall nodded. She and Flitwick left.
"What did you have in mind, Miss Hermione? I…I sort of promised him I wouldn't let that kind of thing happen to him, and don't ask me when I made that promise, either," he said hastily. "Aragog's grave has got enough room."
"They could dig him up anyway. First, he's far too recognizable." She took out her wand and began burning the body till the face and hands were charred to a crisp. But the former Potions Master's profile was still eerily present.
Hagrid understood what she was doing now, and though it broke his heart, he smashed the face to a pulp with his boot, and ground the long-fingered hands into wreckage. It doesn't matter what the portrait says now. He saved Harry's life a dozen times that I know of, not even counting today. He was my friend. He deserves better than being dragged through the streets, even if Harry would like it better.
Then Miss Hermione took a coin out of her pocket. Hagrid recognized it—he'd gotten one too, for being in the Order. "Now I need you to take Snape over to that pile of bodies over there," she said. "I know it's ugly work, but if you can stick him in the middle somewhere it would help."
Hagrid nodded, and did as she said. It made a lot of sense now. Snape would be buried with any other Aurors who didn't have names. "Well," he said. "That's done." He turned around to see tears run down her face. "How's young Ron?" he asked, finally remembering.
"He's dead, too," Hermione said. She fell against Hagrid's shoulder and sobbed her grief out. Hagrid didn't want to tell her exactly how it'd happened. She'd blame Harry, was all. But he had to tell her part of it. "It wasn't Snape who did it," he said. "It was him—I mean, Voldemort. It feels funny to say his name now."
"I know," she said. "Ron told me what happened before he died. I know you still want to protect Harry. But if he hadn't let his grudge for Snape get to him—"
"Well, it can't be changed now," Hagrid said, and let her cry some more.
Once she was better, or at least cried out a bit, Hermione put a shield around the spot where Riddle had died, though she cleaned up most of the blood first. They both went down to the sick tent where an impromptu conference was being held. Harry was lying down on a bed, and clearly in distress.
"What's wrong?" Hagrid asked. "I didn't see him get hurt."
"I don't know," said McGonagall. "Has anyone seen Remus? He's very good with Dark Curses."
Hagrid went to look for Lupin, who was on a cot over on the other side of the tent, his arm wrapped up. The werewolf was sweating in pain. "What happened?"
"Pettigrew and that damned silver hand of his," Remus said. "I got him, but not before he got me. I'll get over this, I'm told, but it's going to hurt for a couple of weeks from the silver poisoning. I won't get all the way better till my next change."
"They need you right now. Harry's not doing good, and nobody knows why," Hagrid said.
Remus tried to sit up, but made a hash of up. Hagrid impatiently scooped the wolf up and carried him over. Lupin waved a couple of spells over Harry and his eyes widened. "Did you know you have a Life Debt hanging over you?" he asked.
"A what?" Harry croaked.
"A Life Debt, like the one I felt over Wormtail. Except it's going bad. Anybody save your life recently?"
"Ron," Harry said helplessly. "But that shouldn't be it. I remember, Dumbledore told me once that Snape had a Life Debt out with my father, but that it was transferred to me. I should be able to do the same with the Weasleys."
"Harry," Hermione said quietly. "How many times has Professor Snape saved your life?"
The young man's mouth fell open. "Um…"
"The broom jinx in your first year," Hermione said. "Refereeing the next game. I can't think of anything your second year, though there were a couple of times in Potions Class that could count. That mistake you made with the Hair Tonic was pretty nasty. Our third year, someone came and got us and brought us into the infirmary on stretchers, even after we'd done our best to smash his head in. He thought he was protecting us from Sirius Black, and I know he protected us from Remus here when he turned into a werewolf. I can't remember anything from fourth year, but I'm sure there was something. He certainly tried to warn everyone about Moody. He tried to warn Fudge about Voldemort. He lied about the Veritaserum to Umbridge. An overdose of that stuff can kill. Even Moody will admit that Snape warned the Aurors about us going to the Ministry if you yell at him enough. And today…I saw what happened at the last. He let that sword go right through him and stopped him from doing anything about it. He doesn't have any relatives left, Harry. We'd better think of something quick."
"Malfoy," Harry gasped, his face white. "I'll owe it to Malfoy. Draco, I mean. I know Lucius is dead."
"Yes, and he would have killed you if Snape hadn't gotten him first," Hermione said, her face grim.
But Harry didn't get any better. "Maybe Draco's already dead," Hagrid said. "I din' see him, but that doesn't mean he wasn't here."
"Slytherin!" Harry spat out, his face convulsed with hatred. "I'll protect Slytherin!"
"Safe bet there, Harry, since they aren't at the school any more," Hermione said.
"Well, then, I'll bring it back!" At that the young wizard's breathing got much better, and a thunderclap sounded.
"I heard that, Mr. Potter," McGonagall said, looking pleased. "I was wondering how I was going to manage it. We will have a long working partnership together."
Harry looked appalled, and spat out an obscenity.
"Oddly enough, that's exactly what young Severus said when he found out he owed a Life Debt to your father," Minerva said with a hint of a smile.
Flitwick came back from whenever he'd wandered off to—Hagrid found it hard to keep track of someone so small—and said, "Riddle is gone forever. I've checked ten of the prisoners, and the Mark is gone completely, not just faded as it was so long with Snape.
Then Hagrid had to sit down, though he hadn't really been doing anything to mention. He found himself being levitated to a mattress someone had dragged out of the castle and which they'd transformed to a size he could use. "Here, drink this," Pomfrey said. Hagrid obeyed, and fell asleep for a while.
Two days after the portrait woke up. Hagrid was glad to go see the Headmaster again, if only in a portrait, but it wasn't really the same. McGonagall had clearly filled Dumbledore in on recent events. Harry and Hermione were sitting there, too, along with the rest of the surviving staff. Sprout was dead, defending her greenhouses against the mutant Devil's Snare, and Longbottom in line to succeed her.
Dumbledore looked sad. "Again I failed. I thought the war against Tom was so important I didn't tell people what they really needed to know. Harry, I never even thought about how Snape had fulfilled his Life Debt to James so many times that you owed him. And I deliberately left you ignorant of his many sacrifices for the Order. I thought you would admire him if you knew, and that made me fear you might follow the path that he first took if you knew what your father and his friends had done."
"There is a problem, Albus," Minerva cut in. "If Longbottom takes over Hufflepuff along with Herbology, and Harry revives Slytherin, then three of the House Heads will be Gryffindors. It was bad enough when both the Headmaster and the Deputy Headmistress were from that House for so long. We cannot let this happen again."
"I know. But we have three other positions to fill. Sinistra should be offered her position back first, but I know she doesn't want to be House Head. Longbottom should take Herbology, but not the headship of Hufflepuff. Find a Hufflepuff who can teach Potions, perhaps, or simply find one to be a full time Head of House. Perhaps we should have full time Heads of Houses anyway who don't have to teach."
"I don't want Slughorn back," Minerva said.
"Then don't ask him. I wanted him here mainly so that Harry could find out what he knew about Tom."
"What about Snape?" Hagrid asked. Everybody had forgotten him!
"He was forced into making an Unbreakable Oath to kill me. He was more than willing to die rather than obey it. I forced him into promising me to keep it. What…what happened to him?" Dumbledore looked hesitant.
"I killed him," Harry said. "He…he let me do it, because that way Voldemort would die as well. And then I found out about the Life Debt." He looked much younger than he normally did. "I…I, I have to help Slytherin now, or pay the price."
Hagrid decided he wouldn't mention what Harry did after Snape was dead. Harry would remember all by himself.
"Things are going to be a little different from now on," McGonagall said sharply. "There were no Slytherin students in the battle, and I shall be certain to mention that quite loudly to anyone who asks. It is my belief that Professor Snape somehow managed to keep them out of the way entirely, though I plan to speculate that they were more loyal than anyone anticipated. I plan to send letters to each and every one inviting them back. Whether they will come, of course, is not in my power to know. You have done well in your time, Albus, but it's over."
One of the other portraits let go of a smothered laugh.
The rest of the session went well, though Rita Skeeter tried to interview him as he left the crowded Headmistress's office.
Hagrid was too busy the rest of the day to think about it much. It was hard work dealing with the bodies, even with Preservation Spells over all of them. They finally came across the one that he knew was Snape's. He deliberately mishandled it so the coin fell out of the pocket. "Funny," he said, "What's that?" and let Moody pick it up.
"Must have been one of ours," the old Auror said, turning the coin over. "This is one of the coins that Miss Granger charmed last year. Mmm. Let me take a look."
Hagrid lay the body down on the ground. "Wasn't there some Aurors who went missing?"
"Yes. That moron Dawlish, though he wasn't in the Order, and MacKenzie. But MacKenzie wasn't that tall."
"You didn't know everyone who was in the Order, did you?"
"Of course not. That would be incredibly sloppy. I can't believe we did those photos the first time around, frankly…well, I don't have a clue who he could be. Hmm. Whatever happened to Snape, anyway?"
"I think Harry cut him up and fed him to the squid," Hermione said. Hagrid was glad she was there. He was trying hard to think of a lie really fast, and he was always bad at that.
"Well, damn. If we don't know who he is, we can't give him back to his family. Wouldn't be right if we picked the wrong one," Mad-Eye said, though his magical eye appeared to be working overtime.
"They do something interesting in the States," Hermione said with a bright smile. "The Muggles have this graveyard for their soldiers, and in the middle of it they have a tomb to the Unknown Soldier. They pick out a body they know is one of theirs, but they can't identify it because all the papers were burned up or whatever. See, even the teeth are too smashed in. Not even my parents could reconstruct that mess."
Moody blinked slowly. "Interesting. And where would be a good place for it, do you think?"
"Why, right next to the Headmaster," Hagrid heard himself saying. "Unless you think that's not right, or something. I mean, I've got extra room in Aragog's grave if nobody ever comes to claim him."
"Two monsters, both alike in dignity," Moody said grimly. "Funny what that portrait said, wasn't it?"
"Lupin always wondered about what really happened. I remember what he said after the funeral," the half-giant said.
"Yes. So do I," said the grim retired Auror. "Well, if that bastard Malfoy gets a decent send-off, thanks to that idiot wife of his, I suppose it couldn't hurt for some poor man who gave his life to the Order to get the honor he deserves."
Hagrid breathed a sigh of relief. For a moment he'd thought that Mad-Eye had figured it out. "That's all right, then," he said.
Moody grimaced at both Hagrid and Hermione. "So it is. You'd best start clearing ground, Hagrid. Even with a good spell bodies go off after being in the sun this long." He looked down at the corpse's feet. "Funny how people miss the little things. When they're pretending to be someone else, they almost never remember to change their boots, or disguise their feet. Unless they're using Polyjuice, of course."
The groundskeeper gulped. He should have gotten the feet as well as the hands. But Moody just turned around, whistling to himself. Maybe the plan was going to work anyway.
The Unknown Auror
The service for the Unknown Auror was well done. Hagrid thought it was very nice, and much better than it could have been if anyone had known who it really was. The tomb had been placed at Dumbledore's feet—Minerva had insisted on that, which kind of made him wonder how much she knew—and everyone, including Harry and all the remaining Weasleys, turned out. Bill and Fleur made a good couple—him with his scars, and Fleur always so beautiful, but looking at her husband like he was still as handsome as he'd been before. "We were afraid to start a family with all that was going on," Bill was saying to Molly, but Hagrid heard it anyway. "But now—I think you can look forward to your first grandson in less than a year. We're not sure yet, of course, but we've given it our best shot the last couple of nights."
Molly blushed red, squealed, and embraced Fleur, then Bill. Hagrid drifted away, feeling a little embarrassed listening to this. But she had a right to be happy, after losing both Ron and Charlie the way she had.
A few days later, Narcissa Malfoy visited. He hadn't seen her much when she was Narcissa Black—too hoity toity for the likes of him, he'd always supposed.
"Where is he buried?" she asked softly.
"Who?" he asked. "I thought you came and got your husband. Flitwick said you were looking for him. And I'm dreadful sorry about your son. We all heard." Draco's body had been found in Riddle Manor. On top of that, she'd had the guts to claim her sister's body from the Ministry. Hagrid had to admire her courage, if not her sense.
"Professor Snape," she said. "I know he was there."
"Well…seems he got lost along the way," Hagrid said. He walked her past the Headmaster's tomb, and the new one as well, which was still decked with fresh flowers. "There was a body that belonged to someone in the Order, but nobody could figure it who exactly it was, so they didn't know what family to give him to," the groundskeeper said. "Miss Hermione said the Muggles in the States take care of theirs like this."
The carving on the tomb said TO THOSE WHO FELL WITHOUT A NAME WE GIVE OUR HONOUR AND DEVOTION. THIS MAN SERVED US AS A MEMBER OF THE ORDER AND DIED IN BATTLE AGAINST EVIL. WE SALUTE HIM.
"Is it—" Narcissa pointed at the sign.
"Can't say," Hagrid muttered. "But he asked me not to let anyone spit on his grave. Besides, if Dumbledore wants to take it up with him about killing him and all, he's handier this way. Now, don't take on like that, Madam—what do I call you these days, anyway? Ma'am? I really feel I'd better tell you that he killed your husband."
"Good," Malfoy's widow said. "Lucius could have saved Draco but chose his own skin instead. Severus died because he swore that Unbreakable Oath to save my son. You may as well call me Narcissa. I am giving up my married name and leaving the country anyway." She conjured up a bunch of blood-red roses and left them by the carving. "Good-bye, whoever you are. Rest easy, or as easy as anybody can in this place."
As it turned out, Bill and Fleur had a little boy named Harry Albus Weasley. Hagrid was invited to the christening. "Isn't he the lucky one?" one of the many women gushed. "With a family that size doting on him and part-veela, too—he'll have to beat off the girls with a stick.
For some reason, Hagrid had gotten stuck sitting next to Trelawney, who still smelled of sherry all the time. She mumbled, "Out of the darkness, into the light, died in hatred, born in love. And about time, too."
Hagrid shook his head. Her voice sounded funny and it didn't even rhyme. Then she brightly chattered to him about reincarnation and past lives till he was sick of it, and he wandered over to the punch bowl. Everyone had a nice look at the baby, who was fair-haired, about the same color the Headmaster's hair was before it faded all the way white, and seemed to be healthy enough. Good-natured, too, till Lupin wandered over. Then the infant started crying. Fleur said, "Hush, now, it's just dear Remus," she said as she comforted her son. "He won't hurt you."
For a moment Hagrid blinked. Then he shrugged. He'd see the boy at Hogwarts soon enough. Sybil was out of her head anyway.
The next time he thought about it was several years later, when he was in Knockturn Alley, now considerably cleaned up, fetching potions ingredients. A small boy rocketed into him and Hagrid had to keep him from falling. He was a filthy, dark-haired brat, about the size of little Harry, and was crying. "There, there," the half-giant said, patting the boy on the back. "Here, sit down a bit and tell me about it."
"I can't go back!" the boy wailed.
"You probably have to," Hagrid said, though he thought about telling the boy about the new shelter being set up. Who would have thought that Umbridge, of all people, liked children well enough to want to help runaways and such?
"I don't want to! He'll hit me again!"
"Now, that's no good," Hagrid said, sitting down and putting the boy on his lap. "An old friend of mine once told me there was no cure for sorrow like a lemon drop. Not everybody likes them, mind," he said. Little Harry Weasley liked sour things instead, but his mum said that was common with the veela-kind. "Here, have one." He'd started carrying them for students the very next year after the end of the War.
The boy took one. His face lit up at the taste. "Oh, they're wonderful!" said the lad.
That made Hagrid think he'd forgotten something, but when he reached for it, all he got in his head was that lunatic Trelawney maundering along about life lessons and choosing lives and nonsense like that. "Here," he said. "I'll go along with you. Maybe I can talk some sense into your da, or something."
The fellow was drunk on his face, or Hagrid might have spoken a little more loudly. But as it was, he told the man to leave off the drink, and if he didn't, he'd have someone look into this family and maybe make some changes. "Now, I'm not going to rat on you to the Ministry unless I've got to," Hagrid said. "Nobody likes that. But there's a potion these days that you can take where you don't want the strong drink so much. I've had it myself, and I know someone I wish to God she would."
"You don't know what it's like!" the man said. "Alice died when the brat was born, and every time I see her he reminds me of her."
"Well, if you want to raise him to hate you you're going about it the right way," Hagrid said. "When you can't stand seeing his face send him along to Hogwarts and I'll look after him for a bit."
"You don't mean it!"
"Yes, I do. I had a friend who died that had a family like that, and he might have been happier if he'd had someone who cared for him when he was little." Harry might be a happier man, too, though Ginny and his little girl helped. "My dad raised me alone, but he didn't seem to mind too much. But your boy shouldn't be so scared of you that he runs off like that." He compared this place to the house of love where little Harry lived. That might spoil some children, but Fleur was stricter than people thought, citing some code of conduct that veela and those of their blood had to follow. And the boy adored his younger cousin Lily. It was wonderful how the green-eyed little girl made Harry and Ginny smile. No, little Harry'd never be like Draco.
Maybe it was time to break the cycle, the way McGonagall had said about hating Slytherin. Maybe it was time to make a change.
He left the building after telling the man how to contact him. Silly to worry about who people were before anyway. I'll leave that to Sybil. More to the point, who are they now?
Once back he looked over the tombs, brushed them for dust, and took away the dead flowers. Then he gathered some fresh ones and left some for Aragog, too. You didn't forget your friends, no matter who they'd been.
Author's note: The idea of students hissing others chosen into Slytherin borrowed from Falling Further In by KazvL, who should update it really, really soon, now (please?). Actually, I'm surprised it hasn't happened in canon yet (though Harry did miss the Sorting this year, and probably for the seventh year as well).