This isn't my fandom but occasionally I dabble.

These aren't my characters but occasionally I borrow.

This story was written though I didn't really want to.

I rather doubt I'll write another.

Burn Your Starry Crown

The willow doesn't whomp anymore. Cadaverous and translucent, like the Muggle tree, it weeps.

No one has ever told them that they are lucky to be alive. There isn't anyone foolish enough to believe it to be true. They three -- the man, the girl and the tree -- are the only survivors of the Final Battle. Two in comas for a week, they woke on the same day, gasping to consciousness at the same time, while great, sap tears rolled down the trunk of the third.

Hermione doesn't cry anymore – hasn't since that first day.

Snape never has.

Hermione remembers how she used to wait: for the return to school, her friends, the books; for the day when she would finally know enough; for Ron to see what was right in front of him.

There's nothing to wait for, not anymore.

Hermione cannot lament, though. As much as she has lost, her status as a conquering hero separates her from the threnodists. Molly Weasley lost everything in the Final Battle, her huge family gone in a night. Though ten years have passed, she still moves about the Burrow, inconsolable and wraith-like.

Hermione doesn't see her – hasn't since that first day.

Snape never has.

Snape continues to teach Potions, though he resigned his post as Head of House. Hermione teaches Transfiguration and refuses to become Head of Gryffindor, ignoring the frequent nudging of the Headmistress.

They play their parts well. It seems to go unnoticed that Snape's snarling is perfunctory and that Hermione has taken to calling everyone by their surnames.

No one questions their cohabitation, not really. Certainly, there are some whispers. After all, he is a great deal older than she and, furthermore, was her teacher and, most importantly, is a world-class git.

Mud and pure are not mentioned. These things do not matter anymore.

But there is talk about how they do not marry and about how they hardly speak to anyone, including each other. Hermione and Snape do not need to speak, not anymore. They understand each other perfectly because there's no one else left who can. It is just the gossipy whispering of teenagers and townsfolk, though.

Hermione doesn't care – hasn't since that first day.

Snape never has.

It is likely that Hermione would have grown up to be very beautiful. They'll never know for sure. Now she is whip-thin with a face hollowed by shadows like bruises that will not heal.

Hermione wears her hair like a shroud. Tremendously long and thick, it weaves a web around her, hiding anything her deep blue robes and simple jumpers do not. On rare occasion she will lean just the wrong way, over a student or her desk, and her hair will slip and her robes will fall a bit open and the evidence of that final battle is revealed. There are gasps from the students who didn't know and even looks of horror from those who did, though not quite. On those days, she will dismiss her classes early and return to the tree where she will sit very quietly for a very long time.

She does not fret so when Snape sees the jagged starburst of scar tissue that overwhelms her chest, her shoulders, her neck. After all, he has it, too, like so many lashes across his back.

At night, in the dark, they follow the other's scars like roadmaps.

Hermione doesn't gasp when it hurts – hasn't since that first day.

Snape never has.

They do not talk about love. Love is a concept that cannot be applied to either of them anymore. Everyone they've ever loved is gone.

Hermione never had the chance to be in love, she thinks.

Snape was in love with Lily once, he thinks.

Hermione is nothing like Lily. Lily was never an angel, like they say she was.

Lily told him he was her secret. Lily sang ridiculous Muggle songs -- red balloons, a woman dancing on the sand, a town under glamour that was theirs -- to him. Lily kissed him with tongue tainted by foul liquor plainly named after a Muggle man and smuggled to school in her trunk. Lily's problem was not that she loved too little but that she loved too much. Lily loved James Potter and Lily loved Snape and, he was rather certain, Lily loved Sirius Black as well. And they were just that which Snape could remember, had known, had guessed. He didn't doubt that there had been others.

Lily was heat and power and bright, white light. Lily burned too hot and would certainly have burned out, had it not been for the perfect love that saved the perfect baby, whom Snape despised.

Lily was nothing like Hermione. Hermione was an angel until that night when she was cast to earth, her starry crown burning to ashes on reentry from orbit.

Snape never had a crown to burn.