A/N: This fic was my immediate reaction on DH. I was quite unpleasantly surprised with the amount of mistakes I had overseen in it originally, so this is its improved version. Since I am however still and shall remain a non-native speaker of English, I ask all future readers to excuse any mistakes possibly remaining in this piece.
The walls of the office are decorated with portraits of brightly painted smiling faces, men and women wearing their best robes who are happily waving and shouting greetings at her when she finally enters the room. She doesn't know why but she never greets back. Instead, she dedicates her whole attention to the two latest additions to the gallery - Albus Dumbledore with his twinkling eyes behind the customary half-moon spectacles and the much smaller, battered looking portrait of the dark man who held this office as the last one - Severus Snape.
She is unsure what to think of the man - Who-Must-Not-Be… no, hell, Vol… Volde… VOLDEMORT! killed him as his own, Harry told her, and while he claimed with the same breath Snape was on their side after all, she doesn't know what to make out of it. She hoped and prayed that the Slytherin was still their and not Voldemort's a year ago but after all that has occurred this year… she doesn't know. Simply and terribly as it sounds, she doesn't know.
Snape's body lays with the others now, a terrible loss those 50 young lives! she thinks - and she has to decide how they are going to bury him. Is he worth it to be a part of the official burial of the war heroes or shall he be buried with his own in the small graveyard the Ministry has in Azkaban for such cases? Only a couple of months ago, she would have voted for the first - but not now, not after all what has happened in between. Minerva is kind but she cannot forget and forgive as easily as an young boy who celebrates his resurrection from death…
"Albus?" she whispers and runs a hand over the slightly dusty frame. "What side was Severus really on?" her voice is barely audible.
And as always when she needs it, the portrait proves very unhelpful. The only thing the man does is to smile… A stupid happy smile… and a twinkle! Can a portrait become senile? McGonagall wonders, frowns and turns away in disgust. Then, finally, she spots the Pensieve Harry offered her earlier that day. Her hand touches the bowl and she sighs - she fears the knowledge… but she wants to know the truth.
The silvery contains of the bowl don't hold many surprises for her. She knew that Severus and Lily Evans were friends until later in their schooling… She knew that Severus was brave (no matter the side he really fought for) - and decided to stay at Hogwarts and spy instead of running away as Karkaroff did… She was well aware he was the one who saved Albus's life the summer before the old man's death… No, Minerva is not really surprised with anything in there - no, not even the prophecy or Snape's weeping and promise to Dumbledore in this very office. No, these are not proofs enough, she decides. Especially not if Severus was the one who provided Harry with the memories.
She doesn't say a word and leaves the office - not looking back at either of the two latest heads of the school. Sudden fear in his eyes, Albus Dumbledore tries to stop her - finally seeing that his hope she would understand was in vain… But, when he calls her name, Minerva is already away.
Severus Snape is to be buried in a nameless grave in the Azkaban graveyard. No matter what Albus Dumbledore's portrait has to say about him now, that is not going to change. There is too much pain in the people, and Minerva especially to listen to him…
Dumbledore suddenly feels as if he is damned to endless crying. His smile disappears the morning the post owl delivers The Daily Prophet where Severus's face is between those of the Death Eaters once again. He sheds tears, sometimes quietly or hidden in the inside, but he cries still - for the young boy who once entrusted both his very life and soul in his hands and since then did anything he asked of him - selflessly, no matter what it cost him… Protesting, scowling - but still.
The smaller of the two pictures remains unmoved - the greatest of wizards and men equally obviously don't understand that the rest of the people inhabiting this world is far less inclined to forgive and offer second chances than they sometimes feel themselves to be… The dark man depicted here tries to console himself that what he did helped… and saved Lily's son… once again.
Harry is at the end the only one to show gratitude to him - even if his second-born bears Snape's name only against the will of his own mother. And Snape knows also very well that Minerva's new Deputy left the boy's second name out in the small Albus's Hogwarts' letter. But who else than he would understand better the fact that the life is not fair?
Nobody… Except Albus maybe - now, at last. But how worth are tears of a portrait if the man portrayed on it never understood what he was doing to Snape while he was still alive? The younger of the painted men sighes quietly and uses what is left of his once phenomenal Occlumency shields to hide his true feelings one last time...
There shall be no tears seen from him - the little bit of pride he hides himself behind is after all everything he has left now. Now, that he finally understands that there will be neither words of acknowledgment, nor any Orders of Merlin, proper portraits or even ordinary graves for him, no matter how difficult road he has gone. As always, he is offered nothing in return… Even the Potter's child named after him got his fate explained in a whisper only - as if the boy's father would be ashamed that he let his son bear Severus's name at all.
No, life is not fair - as wasn't his death. Snape knew that he would not survive the war - but why did he have to go like this? WHY?
The walls of the Hogwarts Head Office are decorated with portraits of brightly painted smiling faces, men and women equally, all of them in their best robes. But there are two portraits right behind the Headmistress's desk that seem to be saddened all the time that was measured out for them. They are depicting an old man with silvery white hair and beard and a much younger, dark haired wizard.
The older one seems to constantly hide tears behind his half-moon spectacles while the younger of them never forgets to grace their visitors with a sarcastic smirk. When he lived, this was his weapon to survive - and he knows to value it even more now that he is dead. The smirk was his armour, his cloak, his sword - the only measure how he was able to remain sane in the two wars he was forced to take part in. Thankfully, it continues to do its job.
A/N: Sorry, if I made you cry but I had to write this after what Rowling did to him. I really, really had to!
A/N 2 (not that important now, but I will leave the note here): Not betaed - hope you didn't mind terribly. Do write me what did you think about the end of the book! I found it really unjust towards Snape. I wouldn't mind him dying that much (well, I would, but if he at least gave his life for Harry's or something in that sense!) - this, however, was a completely unnecessary death! I don't think I like Rowling at the moment, sorry… I especially despise the fact she never openly recognised him - except of that part in epilogue - but, hell, wouldn't Harry actually call his second boy Sirius or Remus? I fear he would very much prefer those name to Severus's one…