After You're Gone
The small graveyard looked unkept and sad. Chipped and crumbling tombstones sprayed rudely with bright paint wept in sorrow.
Some of the stones only bore a name or date. Others had been worn down with time, their once loved owners long forgotten.
And towards the far end of this sad and lonely place stood another grave, the newest of them all. The headstone, though only several years old, was similar to the others that resided near it.
Although the name and inscription were still readable, the stone was cracked in a few places and pink letters marred its face. However, unlike its untended companions, the grass ground it was freshly cut and a small bundle of bright flowers lay beside it.
But most importantly, this little grave had a visitor, an old man with long silver hair and pain-dulled blue eyes. The old man gave a quick glance around to make sure no one else was present and took out his wand. A sharp flick of his wrist and the damage done to the tombstone was gone.
The old man sat for a while, talking softly to the stone. Suddenly, he stiffened. He turned his head around and saw a young man in his early twenties watching him. The young man smiled sheepishly at being caught and settled down next to him.
"I thought I'd find you here Headmaster," the young man said. Albus Dumbledore said nothing. "Minerva said that she'll come with you next time," the young man added when he got no response. Dumbledore smiled sadly.
"And how often do you visit him Harry?" Harry's smile faded and he added his own flowers to those Dumbledore brought. "About once a month," he admitted guiltily. "I know it should be more often but…" Dumbledore held up a hand to silence him.
"It's quite all right Harry." A light breeze played with their hair as sat in silence. Harry soon began to feel twitchy, there was something he needed to say to Dumbledore; something he had wanted to say for a long time. "I'm sorry he died to save me," he finally blurted out.
Dumbledore nodded. "I know you are Harry. But it was either you or him and he wasn't about to let you die." He scrubbed absently at his eyes. "You know," he said finally, "Out of all of us, I always thought he would make it." Dumbledore slowly started tracing the lettering on the stone. "One time," he continued softly, "After Minerva found out that her cousin was dead, she said to me, 'Albus, be thankful you haven't lost any of your family to that monster.'" Dumbledore shook his head sadly. "But I have. He," he indicated to the stone, "He was like a son to me. And losing him is one of the worst things that has ever happened to me." He looked at Harry, deep sorrow and regret shinning in his eyes. "And I never told him," Dumbledore's voice cracked in pain as he broke eye contact to look back at the grave marker, "I never told him I loved him." Tears began to slowly roll down his pale cheeks. Gently, Harry reached out and put a comforting hand on the old wizard's shoulder.
"He knew sir," Harry said softly. "You didn't have to say so. He knew."
The two of them lapsed into a somber silence, each remembering their dead.
Finally Dumbledore sighed and rose to his feet. "Come Harry," he said, "We must get back to Hogwarts. You start teaching tomorrow, remember." Harry nodded as he got up and Dumbledore offered him a weak smile. "You'll make a fine Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher."
"Thank you sir," Harry said. Dumbledore turned and placed his hand on the headstone.
"I'll be back next week Severus," he whispered. Then, in a blink of an eye, they were gone and the little graveyard sank back into silence.
I wrote this story after reading one about what would have happened if James and Lily never died. Snape had died in the story and I struck me that no one seemed to care. And so, this story was born. I hope you liked it.
*Special thanks to by new beta reader Honeychurch. Thank you so much!*