19 Years Later
The Greatest Love Story Never Told
Alethea sat on a long wooden bench looking out across a lake. She lay her book down on her lap and breathed in deeply, savouring every moment of being outside. It was a glorious summer day in the tiny rural village of Ashbrittle in the south of England. There was hardly a cloud in the sky, the sun shining down warmly on her as Alethea bathed in its radiance. She smiled as she watched the many Muggle families enjoying their day by the lake; some were swimming, others having a picnic or playing cricket on the grass, but all having a wonderful time.
Alethea picked up her book and found her page again, playing with a strand of her long black hair absently as she read. She caught sight of yet another grey hair and quickly pulled it out, smiling to herself. She really didn't mind that she was getting older; at least she thought she was more at peace with it than other women in their mid-fifties she knew.
"I'm sorry, I'm not…"
She looked up to look at the man addressing her.
"It is you!"
He shocked Alethea by pulling her up into his arms and held her tightly as she hung limply in shock. When he finally let her go he looked more than a little embarrassed.
"I'm sorry," he said.
"I-no… I'm just shocked to see you."
"You're shocked to see me?" he laughed.
"What are you doing here Harry?"
"I had some business in the Wizard village nearby; my contact there told me how beautiful the lake was over here, how he often comes to sit by it to gain some clarity, so I just thought I'd check it out for myself," he said looking at her in amazement, shaking his head. "I can't believe I'm actually standing here with you. What are you doing here?"
"I grew up here," she said. "And it's a terrific little community; I've always felt so welcome here. And it's actually nice hiding out with Muggles, makes things a lot easier being anonymous."
He grinned at her and shook his head again.
"I still can't believe it's you," he said. "What happened to you after the Hogwart's battle? You just vanished. You know there have been stories about you and what could have happened to you that have been going around the school for years."
"I can just imagine them."
"So what happened? Some people were saying you had been injured so we started to think the worst. And then with the Shrieking Shack destroyed, we just assumed we knew where you would have been."
"As you can see, I am fine - time heals."
"How did you… I mean did you manage after… does time heal all wounds?"
Alethea smiled and gestured around her.
"Indeed it does," she said. "With the help of an environment like this."
"I never had much of a relationship with him… with Severus," Harry said solemnly. "But I've actually thought a lot about him since school. In light of everything I found out about him I wasn't sure how I should be feeling. I spent a long time trying to sort those feelings out."
He looked at her with sad eyes as he continued.
"You always believed in him didn't you?" he continued. "Even after everything that happened, all the evidence against him; and then to finally be vindicated in your trust."
"Of course," Alethea smiled. "I do wish some people could have been let in on the truth from the start. But then again, there are still things I still don't know or understand myself. I just know that it wasn't an easy time for anyone."
"I know he treated me so badly for so long but I still feel like I'm the one who owes him an apology."
Alethea placed a hand on his arm.
"Severus never was one for deep sentiments," she grinned. "I don't know how that would have gone down."
"Still," Harry said. "I would have wanted him to have understood how much I appreciated… without all that he had done…"
Alethea shook her head.
"There's no need, he would have understood."
Harry watched as a young woman, no older than nineteen, approached them. She had black hair that ran down the length of her back and dazzling green eyes. She was extremely attractive, and there was something illuminating about her appearance.
"Hey Mum," she said greeting Alethea. "Do you want to go home yet?"
She looked at Harry and smiled warmly. He let his jaw drop as he looked from her to Alethea; he knew there was something eerily familiar about the young woman's face.
Alethea caught the recognition and shock on his face and quickly ushered her daughter away.
"Not just yet Melantha," she told her. "I'll be along soon though."
After she had left Harry turned wide-eyed to Alethea.
"I was pregnant," she said. "I found out a few months before the battle of Hogwarts."
"I'm happy for you, getting to have a piece of Severus with you always. She's beautiful; I'm sure her father would have been proud."
"Yes," Alethea nodded, smiling and looking off into the distance. "How about you Harry; do you have any children?"
"Three, two sons and a daughter," he beamed. "Finally having a real family, a family of my own, it's unbeatable, nothing in the world can compare."
He leaned in close to her.
"I even named one of my sons after Severus."
"You what?" Alethea almost laughed. "You didn't? After all…"
"What can I say," Harry grinned. "I guess I am sentimental."
"It's sweet," she said smiling. "Surprising, but sweet."
Two younger boys suddenly appeared, one grabbing the book from Alethea's hand and reading the title.
"Boring!" he said in a deep voice. "Can't you and Dad ever read anything more…"
"Modern?" finished the second, younger boy.
As her son handed the book back he kissed her on the cheek.
Harry looked the boys up and down in confusion and the youngest held out his hand to him.
"Octavius," he said. "Pleased to meet you."
"I'm… um… Harry."
"You don't sound too sure about that," Octavius laughed.
Harry couldn't help but stare at the two boys, the young men. They both had familiar straight black hair, one cut short, the other long and tied in a ponytail. But it was the boy's black eyes, full of confidence and mischievousness, and their identical hooked noses that really got Harry's attention.
"We're heading home," Octavius said to Alethea. "Saxon and I are bored of all this fresh air and sunshine."
They each planted a kiss on Alethea's cheek and ran off, trying to tackle each other as they raced across the lawn.
"He's alive?" Harry meant it as a question but it came out sounding like more of a statement.
Alethea shushed him and sat next to him on the bench.
"Let me explain," she said. "Sev's life, well, it was never his own. He had to follow Dumbledore's orders, Voldemort's orders… when we saw the opportunity to escape, we took it. We earned for the freedom to live for no one but ourselves."
Harry slowly nodded.
"I think I understand. But, I mean, I can't believe it! Where is he?"
Alethea smiled and pointed across the grass to where her daughter stood beside a tall, lean man. He wore black trousers and a short-sleeved shirt; his greying black hair cut short and neat. Harry shook his head, not believing what he was seeing. He had aged, but even from the distance Harry knew without a doubt he was looking at Severus Snape.
Alethea and Harry watched on as Severus placed an arm around his daughter's shoulder and pulled her into a hug, kissing the top of her head. She laughed and pointed down at a pram where a pair of tiny arms extended out towards Severus. He reached in and pulled the baby out, hugging her tightly as she took a firm hold of his nose.
"Proud parents and now Grandparents," Alethea beamed, tears filling her eyes.
Harry turned to her, still looking astonished.
"But how? I mean, I saw him die. He was dead."
"Don't believe everything that you see," she teased. "Surely you don't doubt the power of love?"
"Hmm," Harry eyed her suspiciously then looked back at Severus. "He seems so happy."
"He is, we are," she answered. "It's been a perfect life."
"Who would have thought?"
"You know, a very wise man once told me that love and family can heal the soul; so many years later I still believe it to be true. How about you?"
Harry nodded and let a smile wash over his face.
"There's nothing sweeter."
He reached out to embrace Alethea and this time she hugged him back.
"It's been unexpected but a great pleasure to run into you," Harry said.
Alethea gestured into the distance to where Severus was holding his Granddaughter up in the air.
"Do you want to wait for him?"
Harry thought for a moment then shook his head.
"When it comes down to it I don't think I really have the nerve. I used to think there were a million things I wanted to say to him, so many questions to ask but I don't think I need to anymore."
"I understand. And besides how awkward would that be?" Alethea smiled and they both laughed.
"Can you just tell him, can you let him know how important everything that he did was and how valued his sacrifices were."
Alethea nodded, her eyes filling with tears.
"Thank you Harry."
"I'm so happy for you," Harry said. "For your life and for your children."
He hugged her one last time and turned to leave.
"Please forget that you saw us today."
"Saw who?" he smiled.
She watched him walk away and suddenly felt a strong arm around her waist.
"Are you ready to go?" Severus asked kissing her neck.
Alethea turned to face him and gave him a quick kiss.
The baby in his arms reached out for Alethea and she pulled her from Severus' arms; her Granddaughter snuggling against her chest.
Severus pulled her in for another lingering kiss and she cupped his face with her hand.
"What is it?" he asked looking concerned.
"I was just thinking," she said. "Do you ever spend much time thinking about the war?"
Severus frowned at her and shook his head.
"After everything that happened and the way you were treated, don't you wish you could talk to them again, get an apology or two? Or maybe a word of thanks?"
"Talk to whom? What has suddenly got you thinking about this again? After all these years do you think that I honestly care what anyone thinks about me?"
"Since when have you ever cared?" she said.
"My point exactly."
Melantha stepped up to them and pulled her daughter from Alethea's arms.
"Have you two quite finished with your public display of affection?" she asked. "You do realise that at your age that's not something anyone else needs to see."
Severus responded by pulling Alethea into another kiss, dipping her low as she combed her fingers through his hair.
"That's just wrong," Melantha called walking quickly away from them.
Alethea and Severus both laughed.
"Now can we please go home now?" he said squeezing her tightly.
"What's the hurry?"
"I think I can make it worth your while."
"Oh do you now?"
"Yes, I have had enough of public displays of affection and have something much more private in mind."
"I love the sound of that."
Severus took her hand in his and they headed off down the pebbled footpath towards home.
* * *
It is with both a sigh of relief and a tear of sadness that I bring an end to this story. It has been in my life now for more than a year and having to finally step back and say farewell will be hard.
I want to thank everyone who has submitted reviews. In particular the regulars; Mark Darcy, Rose of the West, Istani, potions mistress kate, tibys, Tamara 72 & Petite Diable. Thank you all so much for the comments & the encouragement! I should also thank the beta that joined me for a short while, Orb Thesela.
I'd like you to have some idea of how your interest has helped with the formation of the story, for example I wasn't even going to consider them getting married let alone having a baby! Your reviews helped encourage me to make more of an epic love between Alethea & Sev, to make it more than just trashy sex used as filler between canon events. And so it became a real relationship, a true and believable one. It felt comfortable for me to write about them being together – so much so that I couldn't even keep them apart in book 4 for as long as I had planned to!
I thought you might like some background to the names I used. Alethea is Greek & means 'truthful one' also similar to a name that means 'healer'. Validus is Latin & means 'strong' or 'powerful'. Hopefully I've created a character that has lived up to her names.
After I finished Deathly Hallows (and cried for 3 days afterwards) I forced my friends to discuss the book with me. They all insisted how crazy I was for letting myself become so emotionally invested in a fictional character. I believe that once you care about them that much then they cease to be fictional, they become a friend, a companion, and their demise is a real physical and emotional loss to you. When you feel so utterly devastated & helpless (betrayed even) by the unjust treatment a character receives by their true author and feel the need to write your own story, they've become more than just a character.
As such, I had never intended to let Severus die. I could never let myself when my true intention for beginning this story was to let him live. And just as importantly, I wanted him to find love, to find happiness with someone who would think the world of him. I wanted him to get the ending he deserved (& sorry JK but you screwed him over big time).
Thanks again for all the support and encouragement I've received throughout the length of this story. I know how excited I get when I get an email alerting me to a new chapter & the thought that so many people would look forward to my chapters is very very sweet.
Thanks again for reading.
Love Live Severus!