Summary: Severus' trial continues.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Potterverse, it belongs to JKR. I'm not making any money from this.
By Orm irian
Chapter 25: Truth and Consequences (Part 2)
As Hermione returned to her place in the second row, Snape spoke curtly, "Mr. Ogden, I would like to give testimony on my own behalf."
"You have the right to speak in your own defense, Mr. Snape, but be warned that your testimony can be used against you, as well as for you," Ogden said forbiddingly.
"I am aware of that," Snape answered. "My object is to provide additional details to expand and substantiate Hermione Granger's testimony."
"Are you willing to testify under Veritaserum?" Minister Scrimgeour asked.
Snape's lip curled in distaste, but he answered, "I am."
Once again, Ogden nodded to Percy and the exacting young man dispensed the powerful truth serum. Snape's face relaxed slightly as the drug took effect, but the harsh lines of his visage did not soften – he still looked the part of the forbidding Death Eater. Ogden began the interrogation. "Severus Snape, did Miss Granger accurately report the terms of the Unbreakable Vow that you made to Narcissa Malfoy?"
"Exactly why did you make that vow?"
"I was backed into a corner – caught between my long friendship with the Malfoys and my need to appear to be a genuine supporter of the Dark Lord. Narcissa's sister, Bellatrix Lestrange, was present and accused me of duplicity. The vow was instrumental in dispelling her doubts; it secured my position as a double-agent while protecting a sixteen-year-old student."
Scrimgeour sat forward. "Did you tell Albus Dumbledore about the vow?" he asked.
"And how did he react to the news that you had vowed to kill him?" Scrimgeour persisted.
"He did not believe that situation would ever arise," Snape replied. "In fact, he approved my decision to make the vow, as it effectively solidified my position as his spy. Toward the end of the school year, he informed me that he viewed himself as expendable."
"Are you saying that Albus Dumbledore wanted you to kill him?" Ogden asked incredulously.
"Don't be absurd! Of course he didn't want me to kill him! He did, however, grossly miscalculate with regard to Draco Malfoy's tenacity and ability to complete his task. Dumbledore firmly believed that Draco would never progress to making a serious attempt on his life and that, therefore, the vow I made would never be enforced. He was wrong. Draco succeeded in bringing Death Eaters into the castle and confronted the Headmaster on the Astronomy Tower. He was unable to cast the Killing Curse and I, in turn, was forced to cast it or die."
During this speech, Harry had been watching his ring, waiting anxiously for the twinge that would alert him to an unintentional lie. The Veritaserum insured that Snape would tell the truth as he believed it, but the ring could detect whether the speaker's beliefs were actually true. He frowned. According to the ring, Snape was correct: Dumbledore had known the nature of the Unbreakable Vow and its possible outcomes and had discounted the danger to himself.
"The testimony of eyewitnesses stated that you were the last to arrive atop the Astronomy Tower that night. If you were loyal to Albus Dumbledore, why did you not fight the Death Eaters who were present?" Scrimgeour asked.
"There were three of them, one a werewolf; the odds were stacked against me in a fight. If I fought and was killed, both the Headmaster and Draco would have been killed immediately by the others. If I died from breaking the terms of the vow, the same thing would result. The Headmaster was a dead man no matter what choice I made."
"Let us move on to the second point in Miss Granger's clemency plea," Ogden suggested. Scrimgeour gave a grudging nod. "Mr. Snape, tell the court why you initially saved Hermione Granger's life and repeatedly protected her during her captivity."
"At first, I was interested in obtaining useful information from her to gain advantage with the Dark Lord. I suggested a plan that would keep her alive and promote my own interests at the same time. However, after only a few weeks as her guardian, I found myself wanting to protect her for her own sake – as I had protected Draco Malfoy and numerous other students over the years. Eventually, I developed an attachment to her and I found my desire to protect her was quite intense."
"Why did you kill the snake – He Who Must Not Be Named's familiar?"
"I had already decided to leave the Dark Lord's service. I planned to take Hermione and escape from everything: the Dark Lord, the Ministry, the Order of the Phoenix and her friends. If I allowed the snake to kill Potter then the Dark Lord would take over the wizarding world. If the Dark Lord was defeated by Potter, it would only be to my advantage. So I killed the snake to save Potter's life."
"You calculating, self-centered bastard," Scrimgeour muttered audibly.
"Rufus!" Ogden warned.
"No, Rob, I won't keep silent! Every so called 'good thing' he did was for his own benefit! We haven't heard a single selfless act that mitigates his crimes!"
"Minister!" Ogden objected. "You were warned already about making judgments within this courtroom. If you continue to usurp the prerogative of the Wizengamot I will have to ask you to leave the courtroom!"
Scrimgeour subsided with bad grace, staring sourly at his hands which were folded on the desktop before him.
The courtroom door opened and a bailiff entered escorting a gangly young man into the chamber.
"Stan Shunpike?" Harry murmured wonderingly.
"This man claims to have evidence relevant to the case, sir," the bailiff declared.
"Is that so?" Ogden queried, looking questioningly at Shunpike.
"Yes, sir. I brought this for you," Shunpike confirmed. Appearing nervous, he walked to the center of the room and handed Ogden a piece of parchment.
Ogden scanned it rapidly, scowling all the while, then shot a glance at the figure before him. "Take a seat, young man," he directed gruffly, but not unkindly. Shunpike scuttled back the way he had come, seating himself at the end of the bench nearest to the door.
Ogden shifted slightly in his seat to address the gallery where the members of the Wizengamot sat. "For the record, I have a signed affidavit obtained under Veritaserum from one Stanley Shunpike, former conductor on the Knight Bus. It has been irrefutably established that Mr. Shunpike has never had any confirmed connection to He Who Must Not Be Named; he has been cleared of all suspicion of being a Death Eater. This affidavit states that on the night of the 31st of December 1997, he was freed from Azkaban Prison by the defendant, Severus Snape. Mr. Snape, did you, in fact, Apparate Mr. Shunpike away from Azkaban Island?"
"Because the only thing he was guilty of was being a pathetic Ministry scapegoat." Even in a Veritaserum-induced daze, the sarcasm was apparent in Snape's voice. "He was never one of the Dark Lord's followers; he didn't deserve to be imprisoned in that place."
"You freed him out of a sense of justice?" Ogden asked in amazement.
"No. When I recognized him, pity was uppermost in my mind."
The entire courtroom was rendered silent for several seconds after Snape's declaration. Regaining his composure, Ogden cleared his throat. "Very well. We shall consider the ramifications of this new evidence along with the plea for clemency that has been entered before we rule on Mr. Snape's sentence. Mr. Weasley, give the defendant the antidote, if you please," he directed.
As Percy hurried to follow Ogden's order, the wizards and witches of the Wizengamot gathered into small groups, muttering among themselves. Some looked angry, some thoughtful, and yet others seemed confused. Most of the spectators in the courtroom watched the proceedings, cocking their heads and straining their ears in an effort to catch bits and pieces of the whispered consultations taking place at the center of the room.
But one person seemed uninterested in the discussions. Harry, wearing a look of intense concentration, was shifting his gaze between Hermione, Shunpike and Snape repeatedly, as if he was trying to make sense of everything he had heard. After a few minutes, he shook his head and lowered his eyes to stare sullenly at his ring.
The minutes dragged on as the quiet discussions continued. Finally, at the request of two elderly witches, Minister Scrimgeour drew his wand and cast a Dome of Silence which encompassed the first three rows of the central gallery. Various members of the Wizengamot stood to collectively address their peers. Eventually, a vote was taken, and while it was obvious that a majority voted for the resolution, the onlookers were ignorant of the exact issue that had been resolved.
With a flick of his wand, the Minister abolished the Dome and the assembly returned to their seats. When the room was again quiet, Ogden addressed the defendant. "Severus Snape, it is the decision of the Wizengamot that you are guilty of the murder of Albus Dumbledore by means of the Killing Curse. Furthermore, the physical evidence indicates that you were a follower of He Who Must Not Be Named – a Death Eater. For these crimes, the penalty prescribed by Law Enforcement Decree #67 is the application of the Universitas Oblivate Charm."
Snape dropped his head forward and closed his eyes in defeat.
"However," Ogden continued, "in consideration of the extenuating circumstances in the death of Albus Dumbledore, and of the testimony we have heard from you, Miss Hermione Granger and Mr. Stanley Shunpike, the Wizengamot has decided to grant partial clemency. The punishment mandated by Law Enforcement Decree #67 is hereby waived and replaced by the previous penalty for performing an Unforgivable Curse on another person: life imprisonment in Azkaban."
Hermione gave a little gasp as she clasped a hand over her mouth in dismay.
Snape's reaction was silent, but no less dissatisfied. A life term, he thought bleakly. He would retain his identity, but be confined to that dismal fortress for the rest of his life. A very small mercy – but still – more than I expected when I walked into this room.
Tears tracked silently down Hermione's cheeks, and Harry, who had been watching her intently, came to a sudden decision. With a final glance at Stan Shunpike, as if to fortify his resolve, Harry stood. "I beg the court's indulgence, but I have additional testimony to present that is relevant to this case." He locked eyes with Rob Ogden. "May I address the Wizengamot?"
Ogden hesitated. The ruling had already been made. Procedure dictated that he should deny the request – but this was Harry Potter, the man who had vanquished the Dark Lord. The entire wizarding population held him in awe; his suggestions were taken almost as orders by most within the Ministry of Magic. Ogden caved in to the inevitable. "Certainly, Mr. Potter."
Harry directed his words to the rows where the elaborately-robed witches and wizards sat. "Hermione Granger informed you in her testimony that the defendant killed Voldemort's familiar, thereby saving the lives of myself and my companions. But she did not tell you the entire story. The reason for her omission will become clear when you hear what I have to say. I must warn the court that what I am about to relate is beyond shocking, a gross and inhuman use of magic and a perversion of humanity itself. I am speaking of Horcruxes."
A loud gasp, followed by a chorus of whispers broke the rapt silence. Most of the Wizengamot appeared either angry or appalled. Many of the spectators simply looked confused.
In spite of the various reactions, Harry continued his explanation. "Albus Dumbledore had long suspected that the former Tom Riddle, the self-styled Lord Voldemort, was seeking immortality via the creation of Horcruxes. During my sixth year at school, the Headmaster confided these fears to me, showing me numerous pieces of evidence he had gathered over the years that confirmed his original suspicions. Voldemort had created no less than six Horcruxes, magically splitting his soul into seven parts to insure that he would remain on this side of the veil, regardless of the state of his physical body."
"Good Merlin!" an elderly wizard exclaimed from the third row.
Harry recognized him after a moment's thought. "I completely agree, Elder Ogden. The greed and perversion of magic involved in making Horcruxes are despicable enough, but when you consider that their creation requires the taking of a human life, it is obvious that they are an absolute abomination." He grimaced briefly. "In my second year at Hogwarts, I unknowingly destroyed one of these Horcruxes – a diary that Riddle had left in the keeping of Lucius Malfoy. Professor Dumbledore destroyed another during the summer after Voldemort revealed himself at the Ministry. The Headmaster then assigned me the task of finding and destroying the remaining Horcruxes. All of them had to be destroyed before I could confront Voldemort. With the help of several friends I located and eliminated most of the others over the past year. By the start of April, there was only one Horcrux remaining. It was Voldemort's familiar, the giant snake, Nagini."
Harry paused for a moment considering his next words. "As most of you know, Ron Weasley, Remus Lupin and I, guided by Viktor Krum, infiltrated Voldemort's headquarters to rescue our friend, Hermione Granger. At that time, she was being guarded by the defendant, Severus Snape. As Hermione has already related, Remus was Stunned and Ron and me were attacked by the snake during the raid. The snake was impervious to normal offensive spells – Voldemort must have put protective charms on it. Unfortunately, neither Ron nor I knew how to perform the spell that destroys a Horcrux – that was Remus' task. When Snape realized we would be overpowered by the snake, he used a Horcrux Deconstruction Spell to kill it." Harry swallowed, attempting to wet his dry throat. "I don't know why he did it, but I do know that if he hadn't been there and he hadn't chosen to help us, none of us would be standing here today. I would be dead and Voldemort would have won." Harry glanced at his two best friends. Ron gave him a solemn nod; Hermione a tentative, teary smile. "Elders of the Wizengamot, I— I ask you to reconsider your judgment in favor of greater leniency for the defendant." He sank back into his seat.
Instantly, murmured conversations broke out through the courtroom. After several minutes, Griselda Marchbanks requested the Dome of Silence, and the discussions of the Wizengamot were seen but not heard by the onlookers. Twice the members raised their hands to vote, resulting in an exact split. A tall, dark-haired, powerfully built man stood to address the others, gesturing wildly and with obvious passion. He was followed by a witch so old she appeared incapable of standing without aid. Another vote was taken and the resolution, whatever it was, passed by a mere two votes.
The Minister abolished the Dome of Silence and the jurors returned to their seats, some obviously dissatisfied with the proceedings. Rob Ogden stood once again. "After due consideration," he intoned, "it has been decided by a majority vote to reduce the defendant's sentence to a term of twenty years."
"Preposterous!" Scrimgeour spat softly, but quite audibly.
His outburst drew a glare from Ogden. "The Wizengamot has issued its ruling. I thank the members of this august council for their time and effort. These deliberations are hereby closed. The convict, Severus Snape is to be transferred to Azkaban prison immediately to begin his term."
"Sir, if I might make an observation…" a voice interjected deferentially.
Ogden turned to his assistant. "Yes, Weasley?"
Percy gestured toward Snape. "This prisoner is an acknowledged expert on the subject of the Dark Arts – in particular, in countering the Dark Arts. I submit that he would be extremely useful to your department in the context of the Prisoner Reform Act of 1996, section ten, sub-section 'C'."
"Are you serious, Weasley?"
"Quite, sir," Percy persisted. "Look at the facts objectively. One: Over the past year, the department of Magical Law Enforcement has had a seventy-five percent increase in the number of Dark Objects and Spells which its personnel have had to deal with. Two: Less than forty percent of departmental employees obtained N.E.W.T. certification in Defense Against the Dark Arts and of those, a vanishingly small number have experience with the evolution and creation of Dark Magic. Three: Over the past year, two of your people were killed and one was permanently incapacitated while interacting with Dark Objects." Percy cleared his throat and cast a significant glance at Snape. "What we need, Mr. Ogden, is an expert on the topic. Someone who is capable of containing and disarming these dangerous artifacts and who can decipher and counter unknown spells."
Ogden looked thoughtful. "I see your point," he conceded, nodding to Percy. "If the proper restrictions were in place – and they would have to be very stringent – it might be worthwhile."
"I concur, sir. If the prisoner agrees to cooperate, lives could be saved and the risk to department personnel could be significantly decreased. It would be well worth the reduction in time served."
Minister Scrimgeour's eyes widened in sudden realization. "Are you two discussing the— the Societal Service Work Program? Are you both daft? The man's a convicted murderer – a Death Eater!"
"But he is undoubtedly in possession of skills that would benefit wizarding society as a whole and the Ministry in particular, Rufus," Ogden countered evenly. "I think it merits consideration."
"No! I absolutely cannot countenance it! As Minister of Magic—"
"—Unfortunately, Minister," Ogden interrupted, "the identification and recruitment of individuals for this program is under the jurisdiction of the Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. You have no authority to interfere in this decision, just as I have no right to determine Ministry policy."
Scrimgeour leaned close to Ogden. "You're making a big mistake, Rob," he growled in an undertone. "Mark my words, public opinion will roast you alive if you do this!"
Ogden's eyes narrowed in displeasure. "I am not a politician and I won't be pressured into following the dictates of one! Damn it, Rufus, I've lost three people in the last year, and we have yet to deal with the majority of known Death Eater residences!" He turned abruptly away from the Minister of Magic. "Mr. Snape, the Ministry has initiated a prisoner rehabilitation program that allows convicts to utilize their skills for the benefit of wizarding society. Would you be willing to participate in it?"
"What, exactly, will I get in return?" Snape countered.
"The provisions of the program stipulate a fifty percent reduction of time served."
"This is outrageous!" a quavering feminine voice called. "It's an insult to the memory of Albus Dumbledore!"
"I agree with Madam Marchbanks!" another witch shouted.
"It's shameful!" a deep voice concurred.
Ogden turned to find the elderly Madam Marchbanks on her feet, her face nearly purple with indignation. "The Wizengamot has completed its part in the jurisprudence of this case," he declared in a measured voice. "This is an administrative matter for which you are not required to be present." He pinned the elderly woman with his stare. "You are free to leave, Madam Marchbanks – you and any others of the council who do not wish to hear the rest of these proceedings."
With a sniff of disdain, Madam Marchbanks gathered her handbag and stalked out of the courtroom. She was followed by nearly half of the other council members.
Snape sneered at the backs of the departing jurors. No doubt those are the same ones who voted against clemency in the first place, he concluded.
"Well, Snape," Ogden said, drawing the dark man's attention back to the matter at hand. "Are you interested in participating in the Societal Service Work Program? What my department needs is—"
"I know what you need from me," Snape interrupted. "You and Weasley were not exactly circumspect in your discussion. I agree to work for the Ministry – as long as I do not have to be quartered in Azkaban."
"That can be arranged," Ogden said. "There are facilities available here to accommodate long term inmates. In fact, it would be undesirable to have you incarcerated at such a distance from the Ministry." He shifted his attention to Percy. "Weasley, see to the paperwork," he ordered.
"Yes, sir!" Percy responded. He rose immediately and gathered the parchments before him with alacrity. As he marched purposefully from the courtroom, Ogden stood to formally close the proceedings.
"All issues having been satisfactorily resolved, I declare that this trial and sentencing is hereby concluded." Ogden collected his own parchments and quill as the remaining Wizengamot elders, witnesses and spectators began to rise.
Being manacled to the defendant's chair, Snape stayed put, his eyes seeking Hermione as the murmuring crowd began to move past. She looked up, meeting his eyes, and her gentle smile communicated a world of meaning to him. She was happy with the trial's outcome, she wished him well and she still cared for him – in spite of everything that had happened. For the first time, Snape had an inkling of what her parting words in the cellar of the Riddle House had meant: she had to be true to herself. His lips quirked upward into the barest of smiles – all he could allow himself in front of so many others. She nodded once in acknowledgment and taking Weasley's arm, left the courtroom.
Most of the lingering crowd had made its way to the door before the guards appeared to release him. "Up you get, Snape," one of them urged as they hoisted him up by the arms.
Turning, Snape saw a familiar figure standing directly between himself and the exit. "Potter," he acknowledged with a nod. The single word and action, spoken without a trace of his old arrogance or disdain, was meant to convey to the younger man the recognition of his debt and the gratitude that he was entirely unable to utter aloud. He didn't understand why Potter had spoke on his behalf in the courtroom, but he was thankful that he had.
"Snape," Harry replied, in an identical fashion. Green eyes met black for an instant, acknowledging that the unspoken message had been received and understood. One of Snape's guards tugged on his arm to get him moving again.
"Wait!" Harry demanded, stopping the guard with a hand on his arm. He turned his gaze back to Snape. "I have something to say to you." He took a deep breath. "I don't like you, Snape. I don't think that will ever change. I testified in this courtroom because Hermione showed me that it was the right thing to do, both for the sake of my friend and justice." Harry paused for a moment, giving Snape the opportunity to respond. But Snape remained silent, and his impassive expression made it impossible to tell what he thought of the younger man's declaration. Harry continued, "This war has forced my friends and I to grow up very fast, but in spite of everything I went through, something of maturity was missing for me. Now that it's over, I'm ready to be a man and let go of my schoolboy grudges." Harry looked piercingly into the older man's eyes. "What about you, Snape? Will you take that final step out of adolescence? Will you let go of your schoolboy grudges?"
"If you can do it, Potter, then I can." There was no arrogance, but a touch of challenge had crept into his voice.
Harry suppressed a smile of satisfaction. "So be it," he said with finality and turned on his heel to leave the Ministry.
Severus Snape woke the next morning to his first day as a convicted criminal in the Societal Service Work Program. Indentured servitude, that's what it is, he thought derisively. Realistically, he knew that his present circumstances were far better than he had any right to expect. Even the twenty year sentence to Azkaban would have been a mercy in comparison to total memory erasure or a life sentence. And he was more comfortable now. The permanent cell he had been moved to was larger, warmer and better lit than the dungeon-like isolation chamber he'd been in for the past two weeks. In addition, he was now on the same level as the Auror Offices – for the convenience of the Aurors who needed his assistance, undoubtedly. The thought of having to work with people like Dawlish, or worse yet, his former Order colleagues, made him grimace in distaste.
He had no illusions about what he was in for. He would be risking his life on a very regular basis, dealing with dangerous Dark artifacts and perilous spells. Many within the Ministry would view him as expendable; the dirtiest of the dirty work would go to him. But he had no intention of sacrificing himself or taking gratuitous risks. Through the efforts of Hermione, two Weasleys, Shunpike and even Potter, he had another chance, and he fully intended to survive his years of Ministry service and make the most of his second (or was it his third?) opportunity.
"Ready for your first day of work, Snape?" a deep voice called.
Giving a sharp nod, he set aside the breakfast tray a guard had brought earlier and stood as two young Aurors entered his cell. The one who had spoken was called Johnson or Johanson; Snape vaguely remembered teaching him Potions. He didn't recognize the other man, a dark-haired, silent fellow of approximately thirty.
"Lift up your shirt," the first man ordered.
"Why?" Snape asked suspiciously.
"You are required to wear this," he answered, holding up a belt-like, metallic object.
The second Auror raised his wand, giving Snape a questioning look that plainly asked if he would rather be hexed or cooperate.
Snape lifted his shirt and under the scrutiny of his partner, the first Auror put the object around his waist and fastened the clasp. When he tapped it with his wand, a tingle of magic coursed over Snape; the belt was now seamless, without buckle or catch.
Snape scowled. "What is it, Johnson?" he ventured.
"Johanson," the man corrected with a smirk. "It's an anti-Apparition device. You'll need this, too," he continued, as he held out Snape's wand.
Snape narrowed his eyes as he took it. "The Ministry trusts me with my own wand?"
"How else would you do your job?" Johanson replied. "However, if I were you, I wouldn't try anything tricky with it. It's been modified to insure you cannot harm anyone."
"The Virga Termino Charm," Snape stated flatly.
"Precisely. A hex has also been put on it to render you unconsciousness if you attempt to cast any spell at another person."
Snape closed his eyes as the weight of this last irony settled over him. The gods must think this is the perfect joke. "If this is a jest then it is too bitter for laughter," he said under his breath.
"What's that?" Johanson asked irritably.
Snape shook his head wordlessly. I will survive, he reiterated silently. Ten years is not so very long. I will not even be considered a middle-aged wizard when I am released. He took a deep breath. "I'm ready. Let's go to work."
With a loud crack, Hermione appeared just outside the gates of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. They stood open, ready to admit the hundreds of students who would be arriving this evening for the start of the new school year. Hermione glanced back over her shoulder towards Hogsmeade. It would be several hours before the train pulled into the station to disgorge its excited, chattering load of children. Headmistress McGonagall had suggested that she Apparate directly to the school, no doubt realizing how disruptive the presence of one of the Indestructible Trio would be on the Hogwarts Express. She had also invited her pet student to have lunch at the castle and get settled into her room before the other students arrived. It was an indication of what she could expect this coming year.
Hermione was both relieved and annoyed by her special status. While she wished she could be just another student, realistically, she knew that was unlikely. She was different, and everyone – the faculty, the other students and herself – knew it.
Although technically too old to attend Hogwarts, as she would be nineteen in a matter of weeks, an exception had been granted by the Board of Trustees allowing her to attend seventh form classes and take her N.E.W.T.s at the end of the year. The thought of being Ginny's classmate brought a smile to her lips. Hermione was (predictably) eager to start formal classes again, knowing that her tutelage under Severus would be universally discounted. She had decided to continue with all the subjects she had studied in her sixth year. In addition, she planned to add Astronomy.
Smoothing down the front of her school robes, she set off across the grounds toward the castle. The day was sunny, warm and mild, more like late summer than early autumn, and she basked in the vibrant colors of grass and sky. Even the weather seemed to reflect the new optimism in the wizarding world now that the threat of Voldemort was securely behind them.
"Hermione!" an alto voice called, drawing her eyes away from the lake. The Headmistress was descending the castle steps, her face wreathed in smiles. To Hermione's surprise, McGonagall greeted her with a brief hug and a heartfelt, "Welcome, child!"
"Thank you, Professor," she answered politely as they stepped apart. Hermione raised her eyes to the castle doors. A feeling of rightness, of homecoming, warmed her to the core. "Well, I'm back," she said.
1. Dome of Silence: this idea was shamelessly lifted from the old television farce Get Smart, although it was called the 'cone of silence' on that show.
2. Lord of the Rings quotes:
a. In Snape's final scene he says, "If this is a jest then it is too bitter for laughter." This is a paraphrase of Aragorn's line from The Return of the King (The Last Debate) in which the Captains of the West decide to assault Sauron as a feint in order to give Frodo a chance to reach Mount Doom. The original quote is, "If this be jest, then it is too bitter for laughter."
b. The final dialogue in Shades, "Well, I'm back," which is spoken by Hermione, is also the final dialogue in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Samwise Gamgee says this to his wife after he returns from accompanying Frodo and Bilbo to the Grey Havens. (The Return of the King in the chapter titled, The Grey Havens).
--This is the end of Shades, but not, perhaps, the end of Hermione and Severus' story. Look for a short sequel in a couple of months.