Disclaimer: Harry Potter and its characters and situations are the property of J.K. Rowling and WB. I make no money from this.

The Funeral

The bare graveyard was lit by bleak winter sunlight, what little could penetrate the expanse of grey rain clouds overhead. Few had made their way out in the drizzle for the burial of Tobias Snape beyond his immediate family and obligated colleagues. Only one or two of the more gossipy neighbours, overcoming their affront at the man's often brusque manners in favour of gossip on the day's events. But Snape's funeral was as uneventful as his life, and as poorly attended. There were no brawls or arguments, no long-lost relatives, and certainly no one throwing themselves at the coffin in anguish.

The Minister droned his littany as the Good Book dictated, and his widow stood apart from the few others, at the head of the deep, muddy hole into which her husband had been lowered. Her large black umbrella shadowed her face, so no one could tell her expression. If she cried, she did so silently, her small figure stiff and unmoving, like a statue bearing witness to the proceedings.

To her left stood the deceased's only son, tall for his fourteen years, and shabby in a second hand suit that did not quite fit him. He held up his own umbrella, covering himself and the girl that stood beside him. Her red hair seemed to be the only splash of colour on the otherwise monotone day. The boy was tall and naturally slouched, as still as his mother.

"But yay, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death," intoned the minister's monotonous voice.

The girl's lace-gloved hand slipped into the boy's. His skin was pale against the black, and his long fingers entwined with hers.

Severus knew he should be mourning his father. They had never seen eye to eye – that was the way his mother tersely put it. They had argued, especially after Severus had experienced the joys of school, and what little victories could be one by standing up for himself. They were too similar, apparently, both too stubborn and too clever for their own good. But Severus had loved his father, in his own way. At least, he had written to him every month, reporting his academic process as the only thing Severus was certain his father would appreciate. He had cried when the news came. Not in wrenching sobs, like he had seen others cry for lesser reasons, but when he lay alone at night in his dormitory, knowing that the next morning he would travel home, hot tears slid from his eyes as he thought about spending Christmases alone with his mother.

Severus knew he should mourn his father, but weren't funerals about the living? The living hand that clutched Severus', small fingers wrapped around his, their skin separated only by thin black lace. He glanced down at their hands, his stiff and white, not daring to move, hers gripping his in an attempt to comfort. He did not dare look at her face, though. She might move then, might know what he was thinking and pull away.

Gently and carefully and slowly, he rubbed his thumb against hers. She squeezed his hand and looked up at him, her eyes puffy and red, tear tracks slicking her cheeks. "Your hands are cold," she said, sniffing loudly.

"Sorry," he said. His voice had deepened to a baritone overnight a month ago and it still surprised him when he spoke. He briefly remembered that morning he had first greeted her with new, adult voice and she had laughed at him in amazement.

"Where did that come from?" she asked. He was too ashamed and embarrassed to say anything, and she quickly added. "Oh, don't be silly, Sev. It's nice. I like it."

Stood together in the graveyard, he still did not let go of her hand, but clutched it tighter, wishing she would never let go.

The service ended and the grave-diggers moved forwards, hardened to their morbid task, and began to shovel dirt into the grave. The other mourners were moving away, one by one. His mother took only a step closer to him, and turned so the dismal light fell across her face. The years had not been kind to Eileen Snape. Her face had grown tough and wrinkled, like hands left too long in dishwater, her mouth reduced to a thin, tight line. "Come along, Severus," she said wearily, and turned to leave without waiting for him.

Severus reluctantly loosened his grip on Lily, and hastily stuffed his hand into his pocket. Hidden, he balled it into a fist, retaining the feel of her warmth, still holding tight to the feel of her. She employed her own hands brushing away the tears she had shed on Severus' behalf – his cheeks remained dry and cold. "Thanks for coming," he said quietly, as they began to walk away from the men who shared loud jokes as the shovelled wet mud onto the dead.

"Of course I came," Lily replied softly. "I wouldn't let you do this on your own." They walked side by side, not touching but comfortable in each other's company.

Severus longed to say something, but it was difficult to talk when they could not share information on classes or anecdotes about school friends. Severus' thoughts all centred around the morbid and miserable – moreso than usual – and he could not think of a light subject to keep Lily's attention.

It was Lily who broke the silence, as they paused at the kissing gate. "Are you going to be OK now? I told Mum I'd be home for lunch."

The tall boy nodded his head in understanding, though he was silently disappointed.

She raised her small hands to his shoulders – no, not quite to his shoulders, but to the tops of his arms where the muscles ached from holding up the heavy umbrella – and squeezed through the thick fabric of his coat. He gave a tight smile, almost like a grimace, which made Lily's eyes brim over once more, and she pulled him forwards into a clumsy hug. Her arms hung heavy around his neck, and her hair, frizzy from the damp, pressed warm and soft and sweet smelling against his cheek. For a moment he could not breathe, from the surprise, from the pleasure of it. Then slowly, he wrapped his free arm around the small of her back, pulling her closer, flush against him. He wished it were summer, wished there was nothing but thin cotton between them, so he could memorise they shape of her body against his, rather than the flat, firm lump of their body's scant connection.

"I'm just down the street, Sev," she said against his cheek, her breath hot against his skin. "Two minutes' walk and I'm there."

"Thank you," he almost groaned, so grateful for her touch, her comfort, her concern.

Then she was gone, with a wave over her shoulder, skipping around the puddles, her hands buried deep into the pockets of her denim jacket so her shoulders hunched against the cold. He stayed for a moment, watching her, and instilling the memory. He did not know how long it would have to last.