Paradisus Canis, or Never Let Him Go
SS, SB, MM, PP
Summary: All dogs, as everybody well knows, go to heaven. Severus Snape doesn't seem to be so lucky. Or is he?
Warnings: character death. Read summary well.
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoat Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
A/N: Don't worry, it is not too angsty. More like a humorous and slightly sappy story of some poetic justice. The Death, as one old wise man told us, is a Great Adventure, isn't it?
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Padfoot ran through the meadow, concentrated on sniffing everything he saw. The end of June was bright, but not too hot; the soft breeze from the river brought with it many pleasant and intriguing odours of wet sand, aquatic plants, fish, frogs and other river creatures. It would be fun to go there later... but all Padfoot was interested in right now were rabbits. The meadow was rabbity as hell, and that was one of the main reasons Padfoot liked it so much.
He stopped for a moment to scratch his ear. It was no more than an old habit, as there were no fleas in This Place. This Place was a genuine Dog Heaven, and Padfoot had it all for himself. It lacked only one thing, one small detail, necessary for any dog to be truly and absolutely happy. A human being. A man. A man of his own.
Padfoot shook his head. What funny creatures those humans are! He had not lost his memories of his own human life, but now that he looked at them as a dog, they were blurred and sometimes distorted. Some things that had seemed big before did not matter at present; some that he had not noticed then, became important now.
Take his Cub, for example, who had stayed There. Well, to tell the truth, Cub was not really his, but Padfoot used to think of him as such and still missed him, but not too much. Some part of him was sure that This Place is not for cubs and that his Cub would be better There.
Then, There was Old Tabby. She had been so much fun to tease... especially if you were careful enough not to come too close. Otherwise you would definitely be stricken with a sharp-clawed paw... maybe even twice. Padfoot hoped she was not bored, now that she had not anybody to tease her.
And, of course, There was his Friend. They had been so happy to run under the shining moon, enjoying the forest, the strength of their paws and the beauty of the night; later they would just lay somewhere under a bush, their tongues hanging down, and listen to the forest rustling and unknown beings' voices. Padfoot wondered if his Friend had found somebody to run under the moon.
And then There was Black Lanky who was afraid of Padfoot so much, and Padfoot had loathed him for that. He remembered that some time in their youth he had scared Lanky half to death, but it didn't help much. Dogs do not like those who are afraid of them, and Padfoot was not an exception. He and Lanky had been always snarling and barking at each other... They had been fighting like only two males could fight, both trying to claim the alpha role. The gist of the joke was that they had not had a pack to fight for. Padfoot wondered briefly, if Lanky was happy that nobody was snarling at him now, or sad that he had nobody to snarl at.
Padfoot trotted further through the meadow, but stopped to a halt just after few yards. He froze and sniffed the air, scenting something new in the wind. Something that had never been in This Place before. A scent of a man.
Rabbits could wait; Padfoot turned and ran to the river, there the scent had come from. It didn't take long; rather soon he could see amidst flowers and tall grass something black and long laying on the ground. It was not moving, and Padfoot carefully approached. The strange thing turned out to be Black Lanky.
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"I do not know what else I can do, Minerva," Poppy said, sighing, and looked at the long form prostrated on a narrow hospital bed. "He is unconscious, and he is dying. If I try to Ennervate him, he could wake for a bit, but the shock would definitely shorten his life even more."
Headmistress McGonagall, biting her lips, looked first at her former student and colleague, then at the mediwitch. All this time Minerva was squeezing in her hand a small box of scarlet velvet.
"Do it, Poppy," she said at last, coming to a decision. "If he is going to die, he should know that he is not considered a traitor."
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Confused, Padfoot came up to Lanky. Something was not right; Lanky smelled and looked normal... and yet, if you stared through him for a while, you could see the grass and the dirt under him.
Padfoot carefully reached out in order to sniff the phenomenon, but at that moment Lanky disappeared.
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"Severus?" asked somebody in an obvious concern.
Snape struggled to open his eyes. When succeeded at last, he would have jumped from surprise, if he could, as he saw an anxious face of Minerva McGonagall. Unshed tears glimmered in her eyes.
"Minerva?" he managed, almost inaudible.
"Oh, Severus... Do not die, please!" she begged. Severus frowned. He had never heard Minerva so helpless and pleading. "I have brought you your medal..."
Something round and velvety was put on his palm. He tried to lift it up to look at and couldn't do it, as his arms refused to obey him.
Minerva sobbed a bit and brought to his face a small box, already opened. The Order of Merlin was sparkling on soft red velvet, a wizard's staff crossed with a sword, and a panpipe above them, on a golden medal.
Snape smiled weakly.
"Is he... dead?"
"Yes, Severus. V-Voldemort is dead, and Harry is alive, and everything is going to be all right. The entire world knows now what a hero you are..."
He snorted. He had enough strength for such things even on his deathbed.
"I just... had to... pay my debts," he managed, breathing hard, and closed his eyes. "Let me... sleep."
He didn't hear Minerva leaving.
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Stunned Padfoot stood still, not able to look away from the place where Lanky had been lying just a moment ago. That could not be real! He sniffed the dirt tentatively, but it did smell normal. Perplexed, he made a couple of steps back, sat down and began to wait. Somehow he was sure that Lanky would reappear, sooner or later.
He was right; just a short time later a long body in a black robe appeared again. Padfoot barked happily and came close to sniff. This time Lanky did not vanish; he smelled right and familiar, mostly of himself, and a little of dust, slightly of some stinking herbs and other stuff of the kind. The only unnerving thing was his posture; his body looked as if he was not sleeping, but sick or in pain. Padfoot whined worriedly and licked a sickly pale cheek.
Lanky moved slightly, and Padfoot licked him enthusiastically again, and again, first the same cheek, then the other one.
"Sod off, Minerva," Lanky said suddenly, his eyes closed.
Puzzled, Padfoot stopped and stared at him, tilting his head a bit. Who was Minerva? After a moment of hard thinking he remembered that Minerva was the other name of Old Tabby. He could not understand why Lanky called him that, though. Maybe the man was sleeping and dreaming of her? Anyway, Lanky should be woken up.
Getting determined, Padfoot stepped on Lanky's chest with his forepaws, so as not to let him disappear again, and started vigorously licking the man's face.
"Mmmph!" Lanky said, displeased, and tried to wave him away, but get another enthusiastic lick in result, this time at his right hand. Padfoot wondered what Lanky's real name was. He should have one, as all the humans had. He vaguely remembered something, a bit unusual. Was it Snivellus? No, that was too strange even for Lanky.
"Mmmph!" Lanky repeated and opened his eyes. "Minerva, would you sto... Black?!"
Black? Padfoot jumped in joy. Black was his almost-name. Not quite, but close. Much better than being nameless.
"Woof!" he answered happily and licked Lanky's face again, trying to remember what was the man's name.
"Oh, I see now. It seems I have died and gone straight to hell." Lanky sighed and closed his eyes. "My own personal hell. Sirius Black and I for all eternity."
Sirius? Padfoot barked. That was his name! He was Sirius! And Lanky's name should be something similar... Sirius... Sivius... Severus! Lanky's name was Severus! Padfoot happily licked his guest's face all over again.
"Stop it, you stupid mutt!" Severus cried, opening his eyes wide. "Get off me, Black! Now!"
Padfoot smirked (if the dog could smirk) and gave a lick to Severus's nose.
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"He is getting worse, Minerva. He is delirious," Poppy said worriedly, her head appearing in the fireplace at the Headmistress's office. "Poor old boy... I'm afraid he won't last another hour."
"I will come to the hospital wing at once," she promised.
Five minutes later, dishevelled and distraught, she stumbled out of the fireplace at Poppy Pomfrey's office and rushed to the bed of a dying Severus Snape.
The Potion Master seemed, indeed, delirious. He tossed on the bed, jerking his head sometimes and moaning. His words were beyond absurd too.
"Stop it, Black! Are you deaf, you bloody mongrel? Are you going to get off me at last? And stop drooling on me, mutt!"
Minerva bit her lip and began weeping softly.
"I'll try to wake him again, but now it is already in naught, I'm afraid," said Poppy.
The mediwitch muttered the necessary spells, and for a moment it seemed that she would succeed, as Severus stopped tossing, and his breath evened out.
"Come on, Severus... You can do it!" whispered Minerva.
As though he heard her, the Potions Master shuddered again and then went limp, sighed the last time... and stopped breathing.
"That's the end to his sufferings, at least," sighed Poppy. "Poor boy." She came up to the bed and covered the body with a sheet.
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"Stop it, Black!"
"Are you deaf, you bloody mongrel?"
"Are you going to get off me at last?"
"And stop drooling on me, mutt!"
Padfoot was delighted. Their barking and fighting had never been such a fun in the past. He wondered if the game would become even more interesting, when suddenly Severus trembled and became slightly transparent again. And cold a bit too, now that Padfoot could feel him. He whined worriedly, licking Severus's face a few more times, and then climbed onto the man's body entirely, snuggling, warming and guarding him from an unknown danger. "Mine!" he thought. "Mine! Grrrr... You're mine. My Black Lanky. My Severus."
Lanky shuddered once more, and all the strange things stopped; he became solid, opaque, warm and alive.
"Woof!" said Padfoot and licked his man one more time, just in case.
"Oh my God..." Severus groaned and looked at him. "Black, if you do not get off me right now, I will bite you, as it seems I have no other options left."
Padfoot snorted, but obeyed. He knew somehow that Lanky would not disappear again, and this game was becoming boring. It was time to think of something new.
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On the 29th of June, after a short and quiet ceremony, Potions Master Severus Snape, the former Head of Slytherin, the former Death Eater, the former member of the Order of the Phoenix, the murderer of Albus Dumbledore, the saviour of Harry Potter and the Knight of the Order of Merlin (Second Class) was buried at Hogwarts, where he had spent almost all his life. His gravestone was simple and bore nothing but his name, his birthday and the date of his death. Even years later somebody left there fresh flowers from time to time, but even the Headmistress of Hogwarts did not know who brought them.
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Severus was sitting with a fishing-rod on a bank under a big willow. The air smelled of aquatic plants, wet sand and fish. The nearby camp fire was dying out and smoking a bit.
"Your fool of a godson," he told his companion, putting a worm on the hook, "has nothing but a muddle in his head."
"Don't bother to argue. I've been there and saw it with my own eyes, unlike some silly mutts."
"Thank Merlin for his quick reflexes..."
"The main virtue of Gryffindor, it seems..."
The life was good.