Frame of Mind

"That wand's more trouble than it's worth," said Harry. "And quite honestly, I've had enough trouble for a lifetime."

And with that, the boy walked out of the office, carrying both his wand and the one Severus should have had, and his little friends followed after.

Severus remained quiet in his portrait. The noise didn't stop after the conquering heroes left. On the contrary, it only grew louder; Phinneas had somehow procured wine from the monks on the fourth floor, and everyone was getting drunk. Painted wine was, for them, just as good as the real thing.

After some time, Dumbledore tried to float into Severus' portrait. He found that he was blocked.

"Severus?"

"No."

Dexter Fortescue had made the happy discovery that his ear trumpet could be hummed into like a sort of didgeridoo, and the racket he made seemed to sharpen the brevity of that word.

"Severus." Dumbledore spoke lower, concerned.

"No, Dumbledore," said Severus, seated low in the frame and staring blankly at the opposite wall. "I am done."

"You are free to join us, Severus," said Albus. "We're so proud of you. You played your part - "

"I never played it for you." There was a long silence. Dilys Derwent shrieked as Phineas tried to get under her skirt, and there followed the sound of a playfully rough scuffle. "I am done. I have paid what I owe. I do not wish to see you again for a very long time, any more than I want to see the boy who has her eyes, or the Dark Lord who had me die. I am done. If you would give me a reward, Dumbledore, then give me this: let me be forgotten."

Albus studied the last headmaster of Hogwarts sadly, noting so many things: the position of the portrait, behind the door and high where not even future headmasters would see it; the choices of colors, dark and darker yet, so that there was almost no differentiation between the background and the man who stood against it; the frame, which was dark, soulless oak, and suddenly he understood. "As you wish, Severus," he said, and did as he was asked. He left Severus Snape alone.

Not even dust gathered here. It was almost funny that the only thing he got that he'd actually wanted came at the very end.