Title: Practically Brothers – Epilogue
Date: July 23, 2007
Summary: Post Deathly Hallows. Lupin and Snape both survived. A snippet for the Snupin fans – friendship but no slash. DEATHLY HALLOWS SPOILERS (duh).
Disclaimer: Everything here belongs to J.K. Rowling.
Acknowledgements: This is all my friend Mandrill's fault. Not my best, but she put the bug in my brain about the possibility of Snape surviving, and then I thought of a way Lupin could have survived, and it kind of went on from there.
A/N: This is a sort of final chapter for my Practically Brothers shorts. Imagine that the substance of the Practically Brothers conversations did happen during Harry's sixth year, that Lupin and Snape formed a friendship during that time, which ended because of the events that occurred at the end of Half Blood Prince. Now, it is after the Battle for Hogwarts . . .
A tall, thin figure, cloaked in black, stood at the edge of a line of trees, staring along the road that lay ahead. In the night darkness, with only the moon for light, the figure could have been just another shadow among the trees.
Only a little bit further, and it would be safe to Apparate. He wanted no one to be able to detect him, and he was still too close to Hogsmeade. But ahead, the road left the trees and went across open country, and he hesitated to leave the cover of the forest.
"Severus!" an anguished voice cried from behind him.
He turned to see a ragged figure running toward him, dirty and unkempt. Someone he never expected to see alive again. Snape froze, eyes wide in astonishment, as the figure stopped just in front of him, to stare in equal amazement.
"You're alive!" they both said at the same time. Then each collected himself, and each stepped back, coloring slightly.
It was Lupin who turned his eyes back first, who spoke first. "Harry told us everything," he said. "He shouted it to Voldemort himself, that you were never his. But we all heard, you had to die . . ."
Snape's lip twitched with the ghost of a smile, his eyes cold. "I was expecting it. Dumbledore and I knew the Dark-" he paused, frowned, and went on "- Voldemort would attempt to kill me, in order to gain control of the wand, or so he thought. I was prepared to survive any number of methods he might choose, so long as it was not the Killing Curse. I'd begun taking anti-venom ever since he got the dratted snake in the first place – he'd used her many times to carry out his executions." His eyes grew distant. "He considered it one of his kinder methods."
Snape looked at Lupin. "But you – you were killed during the battle. I had spying devices in Hogwarts, I saw your body lying in the Great Hall."
"No silver," Lupin said. "Dolohov didn't use silver, that's about the only thing that can kill a werewolf."
"I was dead," Lupin said, and he stopped for a moment, remembering, walking through the forest, with Harry, and Lily, James and Sirius. He smiled at the memory. "I can't quite describe it . . ."
"Let me guess," Snape's voice oozed contempt, "you saw a bright light and a voice telling you it wasn't time yet."
"No," Lupin said. Harry had dropped the ring – there had been a ring, he remembered that, and the ring had been important, for some reason, but he didn't know why. "I was . . . someplace else. Then I was back in my body, in the Great Hall. I couldn't move, I wasn't breathing, my heart had stopped, but I could hear everything. I knew that I lay among the dead . . ." His voice broke and he turned his face away. Snape heard him breathe deeply for a moment.
"I awoke when the moon rose," Lupin went on. "I wasn't lucid, and no one was there, in the room where the dead had been laid out. And all I could think – almost all I could think – was of what you had done – I had to find out." He'd had quite a few other things on his mind, of course, but he couldn't do anything about them; the dead were beyond his reach, and the living were asleep. "But when I stumbled into the Headmaster's Office, your portrait wasn't there."
"Albus's portrait was there," said Lupin, "and he said, even if someone had been Headmaster for only a day, their portrait would be among those there – in fact, there is a portrait of someone who was Headmaster for all of three hours. But it will only appear after that person is dead."
"I hoped, when I saw that," said Lupin, "and I raced for the Shrieking Shack, and picked up your trail from there." He tapped his nose. "One advantage to being a werewolf."
"Did anyone see you?" Snape asked.
"No," Lupin shook his head. "No one even knows that I'm still alive. I thought you might be dying, slowly, in the Shack, I raced to find you." He looked back up the road, back towards Hogwarts. "They were still collecting the dead all day, and there were so many other things to take care of. The living took precedence mostly, and now they are all resting, they are exhausted."
"I didn't expect to be carried back in a blaze of honor and glory."
"I think Harry would give you that," Lupin said. "He shouted your name like a battle cry against Voldemort."
Snape said nothing, but his head tilted so that his hair fell forward to throw his face in shadow. "It doesn't matter now," he said, and Lupin detected hoarseness in his voice.
"You'll be a hero," Lupin said. "They'll all want to see you."
Snape's face jerked up. "I am not going back. Let them think I am dead."
Snape's eyes flashed. "Do you think I could bear to look at them, knowing that they know about me? Do you think I want their pity? Do you think I want to grant them forgiveness? No, Lupin, better I be a dead hero, than a live embarrassment. They'll prefer that."
"It would only be like that at first, Severus," Lupin said. "Yes, it would be awkward, but it would pass. And you can finally live, now."
"Not here," Snape said. "Somewhere else. Anywhere else. But not here." His eyes narrowed. "And you should do the same."
Lupin's eyes shot up to meet Snape's. "What?"
"Isn't it better, that they remember you as a dead hero, than as the pitiful object you are forced to be?"
Lupin stepped back, stung. Then he closed his eyes. "I cannot leave. I have a son; I cannot leave him."
"Are you going to raise him on kibble, then?"
Lupin's eyes flashed. But then he said, a note of despair in his voice, "I don't know. Dora was employed, we could manage with her salary, but now . . ."
"I heard you'd acquired a wife," Snape went on. "I notice you don't mention you have to stay for her."
"She's dead," Lupin said. "Her body lay beside mine in the Hall. I saw her there, when I awoke tonight." His voice waivered.
Snape was quiet for a moment, and then said, "And yet you came running to find me instead of remaining with her."
Lupin shrugged. "A distraction. And I thought I had some way of talking to you, in your portrait. And then I thought you were alive, but in trouble."
"Alive, yes, but out of danger. Did you love her?"
Lupin stared at the ground. "I think so. She certainly loved me, Merlin knows why."
"You two didn't lose any time, I notice."
"She'd . . ." Lupin began, "all that year. I didn't encourage her; I had nothing to offer her, and she is . . . was . . . so young. Merlin, Severus, if I'd been teaching only a year or two earlier, she'd have been one of my students."
"She was one of mine, certainly," Snape said. "She was always very persistent when she put her mind to anything. I take it she wore you down."
"When you . . . when we thought you had murdered Dumbledore," Lupin said. "I thought I'd lost you both. Dumbledore was a loss for us all. And you, all that we had shared, that year, I thought it was all a lie. You had helped make my life bearable, and then you . . ."
Snape stared. For a moment, he looked as if he were about to say something, but no words appeared.
"It was the day of Dumbledore's funeral," Lupin went on. "That's when I didn't send her away, when she came to me." He looked down. "Poor, dear Dora. What a terrible choice she made."
"No, Remus, she showed better judgment in this than I ever gave her credit for," Snape said.
Lupin shrugged. "She became pregnant immediately. I would never have let it go further otherwise. I have lived in horror, at the thought I might pass my curse onto her, even accidentally. She never understood, even after she saw me during the full moon."
"She could be thick-headed," Snape remarked. "And now there is a child."
"Yes," Lupin said. "I have a picture . . ." He fumbled in his jacket, then frowned. "I had one, it must have fallen out during the fighting."
"A werewolf, this child of yours?"
"A half-blooded one," Lupin said. "Werewolves don't usually produce children, but there's every hope he won't be the monster I am. More like an animagus. He'll still have to change at the full moon, and he'll still be contagious, but he won't lose his mind as I do. But we won't know, until he's older."
"Teddy the werewolf," Snape sneered. "I heard of the name you gave him. How adorable."
Lupin flushed. "I was insane, to let it go so far."
"Desperately lonely, perhaps," Snape said. "I am sorry, Remus. Albus knew what was to happen, he ordered me to do it. I could not let you know."
"I understand," said Lupin. "And everyone was hurt, it wasn't just me."
"But you were the only one who missed me, I think."
"Minerva was deeply upset by it, too. The other Hogwarts teachers, too."
Snape was quiet. "There was no choice."
"I know. I can only imagine how this past year has been for you," Lupin said.
"Easier than it might have been," Snape said quickly. "I was back at Hogwarts soon enough. And I still had Albus, after a fashion."
He doesn't want to talk about it, thought Lupin. "You were trying to protect me, weren't you. The night we took Harry from Privet Drive. It was me you chose to follow that night."
"And took out the Weasley boy's ear by mistake," Snape said.
"I think he'd understand," Lupin smiled. "There are others, too, now that we all know, who will want to welcome you back."
Snape shook his head. "They never welcomed me before, even when they knew I was on their side."
"There were those who never trusted you before. But with Harry's endorsement -"
"No, Remus, I would receive their pity, but friendship is not gained that way."
"Give it time. You can still teach at Hogwarts, if you want. Or make a living with your Potions. We spoke of this before. You're free now."
Snape sighed, and leaned back against a tree. "No, Remus. Neither of us are free." He nodded at the towers of Hogwarts that rose above the treetops. "That is a world there where you and I do not belong, and will never belong, because of who and what we are. If we go back, there will come a time when everyone will look at us and say, it would have been better if we had died."
"Your son has a chance of belonging, if you let him," Snape went on. "He'll be cared for."
"He's with his grandmother," Lupin said dumbly.
"And knowing you, you made Potter his godfather."
"I'd have made you a godfather as well," Lupin said quickly.
"Spare me," said Snape, his eyes rolling skywards. "And spare the poor boy as well. You'd curse him with me?"
"But you'll curse him with yourself, if you stay. He'll be an outcast, as you are." Snape leaned closer to Lupin. "Remus, let him have a chance at a real life."
Lupin stared back at Snape. "I said near those very words to Harry. He called me a coward for running out on my child."
"Potter forgets what a curse family can be. He should know better than anyone else," Snape said softly.
Lupin frowned. "Besides, we can't just leave. They'll know we are not dead. They won't find our bodies."
"A mystery, perhaps, but they saw us dead, or so they think."
"Albus will tell them that Hogwarts must not consider me worthy to join the Headmasters."
Snape frowned. "That's what Albus said when I suggested it. But he has agreed to come up with some story. We planned that I would disappear after this, if I chose to do so. He promised me."
"But he as good as told me that you were alive."
Snape turned away. "He will tell no one else."
"And Hermione will investigate, if I know her."
"She'll have her suspicions, but she won't be able to prove anything. It's near impossible to find a wizard who had decided to hide, where there is no way to trace him."
Lupin stared at Snape. "I will tell them you're alive."
"Not if you come with me," Snape said softly.
Lupin stared at him. "I – I can't," he said, but his voice was hesitant.
"You think there will be a place for you, in this new order?" Snape said. "How much of one was there after Voldemort fell the first time? You will be forgotten, now that you are not needed, just as you were before."
"No," Lupin said, but without conviction.
At that moment, the sky began to grow light, and Snape turned, so that the first, rosy tones of the still hidden sun fell across his pale face.
"Come with me, Remus," Snape said again. "Let them remember us at our best, and forget the weak, imperfect creatures we really are. Let your son be the son of a hero, and not that of a poor, pathetic monster."
Lupin did not answer. The sky turned from grey to red and gold, rosy lights shining on the leaves of the trees around them.
"For his sake," Snape whispered, "and for mine. I cannot face being a hero among them. But I also find it hard to face a strange place, leaving everything I know, with no friend beside me."
Lupin tried to say no, but his mouth would not move. He's being my alpha again, Lupin thought, panic rising. I'm responding to that. He knows how to do that, with me.
Or is it that I want what he's offering?
"I can't run away," Lupin said again, but his voice sounded hollow.
Snape watched him. "Of course you can," he said quietly, his voice a velvet purr. "Just a little farther down the road, and we can Apparate to anywhere in the world we choose."
Lupin was silent, and Snape did not speak further.
The two friends stood together and watched, as the sky turned from soft grey, to rose and gold, and then brilliant white, as the sun disk rose above the horizon and signaled the new day.
A/N: I originally thought this would be a one-shot, but I've thought of a second chapter, so this is no longer THE END.