A/N: A few post-final battle scenes where Severus Snape is retrieved from the Shrieking Shack.
Two silent figures made their way through a dark tunnel. The only sound their footsteps until they reached a dark door. Then the tallest of the two lowered the hood of her cloak.
"Thank you for coming with me, Mr Potter."
Harry lowered his hood as well. "It's not right to leave him here. He deserves a proper burial. Besides, I can't help but feel guilty that he died here after all, where Sirius had intended for him to die when he was sixteen…"
"I doubt Mr Black truly intended for Severus to die that day," Minerva McGonagall scolded lightly.
"Oh yes, he did," Harry sounded bitter and disillusioned for a moment, "He was my godfather, and I loved him, Professor. But he was also a thoughtless bully who never saw anyone but himself. I have no doubt that he did not feel anything whatsoever at the thought that Professor Snape could have died that day, and only reconsidered after realizing what that would have done to Remus."
"He was a valued member of the Order."
"Yes – but just like Professor Snape he would not let a grudge go. Only he was a Gryffindor so it didn't matter, did it?"
When the older woman made to respond he waved his hand. "Forgive me, Professor. I am still quite confused over everything that happened these past seven years. I need time. For now, however, we should not let him lie there any longer than necessary."
She smiled slightly, then her lip trembled as she pushed open the door. The smell made them both gag and they quickly put up bubblehead charms.
The body was as Harry left it, cold, with the black orbs open and fixed, as if they still tried to capture Lily's eyes. The blood had turned dark and smelly, but the body itself was in remarkably good shape.
McGonagall saw Harry's confusion and managed a small smile. "A wizard's body doesn't decay as quickly as a Muggle's, Harry. A bit of the magic lingers, staying the decomposition process for a little while. Did you not wonder at the other funerals?"
"Muggles have ways to preserve bodies, too," Harry said, slowly moving towards Snape, "I just thought Wizards also prepared their dead for funeral that way."
The Headmistress knelt down by the body with pity in her eyes. "Poor Severus. What a lonely, difficult time he must have had this year. His whole life. I wish I had understood – that he had told me…"
"You weren't meant to understand," Harry carefully started to wrap the black cloak around its owner, "none of us were meant to understand. It could have ruined everything if you had not reacted hostile to him, with so many eyes about. I only hope that seeing my Mum's eyes in his last moments – that he felt he wasn't alone, then."
McGonagall nodded, pushing back tears and becoming the business-like, level-headed witch she usually was and started helping Harry. When the body was wrapped tightly, they carefully levitated it unto a stretcher the Transfiguration Teacher made from the rubble in the Shack.
Harry took a black satin sheet from his pack and carefully draped it over the body.
"Ron and Hermione are waiting outside," he said, "we will not take him back through the tunnel, secretly and hushed up. We will bring him out to the Hogsmeade end of the Shack. A number of Order members are there to escort him back to the castle with honour."
That shocked the Headmistress. "You've arranged that?" she asked.
"Yes," Harry replied grimly, "I know that there is nothing we can do for him anymore – he will not know that we did this for him. When he was alive he longed for recognition and appreciation like any other human being – why else was an Order of Merlin so important to him? It is too late, but we owe it to him. Not doing it would mean not paying off the largest debt we owe."
When they stepped outside, levitating their burden between them, they noticed that the fences to the Shack had been removed and a large crowd was waiting. A road had been created, and on either side of it Order members stood, dressed in black. Students of Hogwarts made up the rest of the crowd.
Hermione and Ginny stepped in front of the bier, leaving Harry and McGonagall to flank it. They drew their wands and white lilies fell on the road. Luna stepped forward and laid one lily on the body's chest. Behind them, Order members fell in line, followed by the students.
The procession went through Hogsmeade and slowly walked up to the castle, every single person in solemn silence as they finally brought Severus Snape home.
Minerva McGonagall walked sadly though the dusty, dark tunnel leading up to the Shrieking Shack. Harry had spent hours explaining everything to her, going over his talk with Albus at King's Cross – it had to have been Albus, no one else would have chosen such a ridiculous location for such an important talk – and giving her a censored version of the memories he had been given by Severus before he died.
Severus…that poor boy. She shook her head, the guilt welling up inside her. At the time it seemed like the logical thing to do, drive him out of Hogwarts. And all this time, all the time they thought he was their enemy, he had been working so hard to keep them all safe. With a deep sigh she had to admit to herself that they had misjudged him, and possibly had since the day he was Sorted.
Now all that was left was retrieve his body, all she could do was take care of him until his funeral. Tears welled up in her eyes as she reached the door she remembered so well from years of walking Remus, poor dead Remus, to this place for his transformations. At least Remus had died alongside his wife, secure and loved. Not alone like the last of the children she was going to bring home now.
She pushed the door open and stared at the spot where Harry had told her the body lay. It was not there. Blinking against the tears and the dim light, she took a hesitant step forward. There seemed to be blood on the floor, but no body.
A cry nearly escaped her lips when she saw something move in the far corner, on the bed. She nearly turned and ran then, but her sense of duty kept her firmly in place.
"Please," she heard her own raspy voice, "Please – if you have moved him – tell me where he is. I need to find him, and bring him home…"
The figure slowly got up and walked towards her, not threateningly, but slowly and with effort, like an old man or someone suffering from fatigue.
"Please," she repeated, "If you moved his body, tell me where it is."
Her brain froze and for long seconds she knew nothing, nothing at all. Then she flung herself forwards and embraced the dirty, smelly form in front of her.
Severus, completely taken aback by her words and the embrace, had no choice but to close his arms around her if he wanted them to stay upright. Minerva again found her vision swimming with tears, but this time out of happiness as she vowed not to let him out of her sight for a long, long time.