A/N: In this story there are a lot of references (such as the title) to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (which is an awesome book by the way). There is also one reference to The Scarlet Letter (which sucks! Except for Pearl; Pearl is awesome.) Also this story starts out during the fifth book.
Disclaimer: I don't own HP.
Luna's Fourth Year
Professor Severus Snape was patrolling the dark, empty corridors of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy, watching for any rogue students who would dare to roam the halls at night. So far he had caught the Weasley twins and doomed them to a week's worth of detentions with Filch. The encounter and subsequent punishment of a few of his least favorite students had put him in a good mood, or at least a better mood than usual. With the return of the Dark Lord, Snape had to resume his position as spy. Therefore, he had to go to all the Death Eater revels. Therefore, he was in a perpetual bad mood. He had to stand and watch as innocent muggles were tortured for Voldemort's amusement. He had to restrain himself from doing anything about it, from jumping in front of a curse meant for a frightened muggle child. Snape longed for the times when he didn't care, when torture and rape and murder didn't faze him. When nothing mattered because nobody mattered.
Snape shook himself out of his thoughts. No point in dwelling on the more macabre aspects of life. He was passing the door to the Astronomy Tower, trying to think about more pleasant things, when something made him pause: the door to the tower was slightly open. Snape smirked; chastising some students was just the thing he needed to divert his mind. Snape opened the door and started up the spiraling stone steps. When he reached the top, he was ready to startle two hormonally charged teens out of a snog fest (the reason most students snuck into the Astronomy Tower in the dead of night). He was surprised instead to find a small girl wrapped in a sleeping bag with a mug of hot cocoa while gazing at the stars.
"Young lady!" Snape's voice boomed, "Why are you not in your dormitory at this hour?"
The girl turned to him revealing protuberant silver-blue eyes. Snape almost groaned in annoyance. Of course he had to run into the Lovegood girl. Snape was all ready to frighten someone within an inch of her life and he had to find the girl who seemed fazed by nothing.
Luna smiled serenely. "Hello, Professor. Hot chocolate?" she said offering him the steaming thermos. "You could conjure another cup."
Snape sighed and, barely able to restrain from conveying the frustration in his voice, said, "Miss Lovegood, what in Merlin's name are you doing here?"
"Oh, my house mates locked me out of Ravenclaw Tower again," she explained, never losing that infuriating smile.
"Again? How long has this been going on?" Snape asked. He remembered what it was like to be picked on, and he started feeling a little sympathetic toward the odd child.
Luna thought for a moment. "A while. I don't really mind, you know. Dobby the house elf usually unlocks the tower for me. But Padma Patil found out about that and told him not to do it again. And I couldn't ask Dobby to let me in again after that. He would of course, but he would probably punish himself afterward."
"So you came here instead of telling Professor Dumbledore or anyone else." Snape's sympathy was quickly becoming annoyance and a little bit of anger. Who in their right mind wouldn't fight back?
Luna shook her head earnestly. "I don't want to get them in trouble," she said emphatically. "And they'd get much worse if I tell. If I ignore it they may eventually get bored. Besides, Dobby still takes care of me. He brought me this sleeping bag and this hot chocolate. Are you sure you don't want any?"
Snape sighed. The girl was too nice for her own good. If he had had a daughter…Snape thought for a moment…she would have been nothing like Luna, he finally admitted. Snape almost chuckled and conjured a mug. Luna smiled brightly as he poured himself some cocoa and sat next to her. It was something Snape normally wouldn't have done; after all it didn't exactly mesh with his brooding persona. But it made the girl happy, God only knows why, and it effectively distracted him from his spy status.
For a while he and the girl merely sipped their cocoa while watching the night sky. It was a cloudy night, the stars peaking through only occasionally. It was slightly dreary, an omen of rain. His thoughts began to turn morbid once again. He wished Luna would say something. What was the point in staying there if the child's odd and random thoughts didn't distract him? He was about ready to leave when Luna's tiny voice startled him.
"Who do you see yourself as?" she asked.
"What?" Snape had no idea what she meant.
The girl turned her large, almost all-seeing eyes upon him. "You must identify with some fictional character or person from history. I see myself as Pearl Prynne from the Scarlet Letter. She was the only person in the entire book who knew who she was. The other characters all seemed quite confused."
Snape chuckled. It fit. It certainly fit.
"So," Luna continued, "who do you see yourself as?"
Snape leaned back against the cold stone and thought. Who was he? He'd never really considered it.
After a few minutes he said, "Sydney Carton."
Luna looked startled. "From A Tale of Two Cities?" Snape nodded. Luna contemplated his answer a moment before saying, "But you don't seem apathetic…or a drunkard."
"I used to be…apathetic that is. I detest alcohol."
"What changed?" Luna asked.
A vision of a happy, laughing woman with bright green eyes and long red hair flitted through his head. "Let's just say I've met my Lucie."
Luna nodded and Snape was glad she didn't ask who his Lucie was. There were a few moments of silence before Luna said in a voice tinier and more subdued than normal, "I hope you don't go to the guillotine at the end."
Snape sighed. "I believe…" he paused, his words getting stuck in his throat, "I believe I'm already at the guillotine."
Luna's eyes widened even more. Snape smiled morosely. "That's the main difference between Sydney Carton and me. He could go on to heaven, while for me time has stopped at the guillotine."
Snape set down his hot chocolate and stood, deliberately ignoring the silent tears on the child's pale cheeks.
He turned to go. "Good night, Miss Lovegood. I will allow you to stay here tonight, but if I catch you again I will have to take points from Ravenclaw," Snape said, his authoritative air back in place. He then left the tower, his robes sweeping behind him.
Thirteen Years Later
Harry Potter's walking through the Albus Dumbeldore Memorial Cemetery with his son, Albus Severus. He comes every so often to pay his respects to the dead and tell his son heroic stories about his namesakes and his grandparents. Every time he comes, he finds a single flower on every grave. It's a nice touch; it keeps the place beautiful even after so many years. Harry leads his son by the hand to Severus Snape's grave. There is a large, granite tombstone, proclaiming the hero's name. Harry lets his son lay the bouquet they brought on the grave and smiles.
"Hello, Harry," an airy voice calls from behind him. Harry turns around to see…a giant bouquet of sunflowers. The sunflowers are lowered to the ground by the person they were concealing. A cheery Luna picks a large flower from the pile and lays it on their former professor's grave.
"Hey, Luna. So you're the one who leaves the flowers." Harry smiles. He always assumed it was the caretaker.
"Yes," said Luna, a smile adorning her face, as well. "I've always found it nice to have living things in cemeteries; flowers connect them to the veil, you know."
Harry laughed. He loved Luna's logic. He turns back to his son and the grave, when he remembers something he's wanted to ask Luna for years. "Luna, why did you insist on that epitaph for Professor Snape's grave?"
Luna glances at the epitaph herself and her smile widens. "Don't worry about him, Harry. He's finally made it to heaven." With that said, Luna picks up her flowers and leaves to finish adorning the cemetery.
Harry snickers. He shouldn't have expected a straight answer anyway. He decides not to ponder her comment (otherwise he'd only get a headache) as he watches his young son run his hand over the epitaph Luna had chosen:
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known."